Since its arrival in America in the mid-1980s, we’ve all been curious about the cute, cuddly, four-legged squealer with the permanent smile – the potbellied pig.

Unfortunately, as with anything new or unique, a lot of people have been duped by profit-oriented breeders who don’t provide accurate information concerning the care and feeding of these animals.

One of the most common misconceptions is the size of the pigs. “Miniature”, as it pertains to the potbellied breed, is simply a comparison with “regular” pigs or hogs. Farm hogs can reach 250 pounds in six months and 500-800 pounds in two years.

Potbellies can weigh in at 70 pounds – equivalent to a lab or shepherd, and not exactly “miniature”.

The pigs are omnivorous (they’ll eat just about anything) and have healthy appetites, but it’s still possible to overfeed your pet, leading to weight problems.

As with humans, the key to proper potbellied diets is limiting the intake of calories and protein. Feed your pig enough to meet nutritional needs, and supplement with bulk feeds such as grass clippings.

This meal fills their potbellies and their time, potentially saving your floor tile, because pigs are natural rooters. They love house plants and often chew furniture.

Potbellies need at least one hour of exercise daily, such as walking on a leash or playing in the yard.

Male pigs have tusks that should be removed completely or trimmed near the gumline. Neutering is essential, and intact females can become cranky.

Potbellies require twice-yearly boosters. They aren’t normal hosts for fleas, and some people who are allergic to dogs and cats are not allergic to pigs.

The key to acquiring any unusual animal is to do your homework, ask questions, make sure you are buying from a reputable source, and make sure you understand the animal’s needs and dietary restrictions.

However, the number of lifetime pig owners is decreasing, and animal shelters are receiving unwanted potbellies who no long fit their owners’ “lifestyles”.

Let’s remember: Animals should not be considered disposable.

“I Wish” – A Poem for Pets

I wish someone would tell me what it is that I’ve done wrong.
Why I have to stay chained up and left alone so long.
They seemed so glad to have me when I came here as a pup.
There were so many things we’d do while I was growing up.
They couldn’t wait to train me as a companion and a friend,
And told me how they’d never fear being left along again.
The children said they’d feed me and brush me every day.
They’d play with me and walk me if I could only stay.
But now the family “hasn’t time”; they often say I shed.
They do not want me in the house not even to be fed.
The children never walk me – they always say “Not now!”
I wish that I could please them. Won’t someone tell me how?
All I had, you see, was love. I wish they would explain.
Why they said they wanted me, then left me on a chain.

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