There are variety of ways in which people misunderstand and mistreat potbelly pigs.
One of the biggest problems is the myth of the “teacup” pig. Scammers sell piglets, promising that they will stay tiny. A few months and many pounds later, the teacup has long since been broken and a much bigger pig is suddenly a problem. Potbelly pigs are surrendered to shelters all the time because they become too big and too much to handle for people who did not do their research about the realities of so-called “teacup” pigs. This is the exact story of Lola, the potbelly whom TCA rescued in March 2014 and then placed at PIGS Animal Sanctuary in West Virginia.
Another common occurrence is improper fencing. Pigs are strong and can use their mass to move barriers, and their snouts are perfect for digging under and prying up weak fencing. Especially when a female is in heat or a male smells a female in heat nearby, fences are more like speed bumps if not secured properly. We believe that Mott escaped from a fence before he was picked up as a stray. And of course he was not neutered.
Even worse, perhaps, is improper and over feeding. People seem to get a kick out of feeding pigs all sorts of things from their table, as well as dog food and other types of food that are far more rich than pigs actually need. As a result, you frequently see potbelly pigs who are dangerously obese, with their eyes nearly hidden and their bellies dragging on the ground. Cordelia arrived to TCA in this sort of condition. With proper mini-pig food and monitoring of how much she was eating, she lost quite a bit of weight and is so much healthier now. You also see this situation with a stray pig who is in need of a home currently at the Durham County shelter (click here more details).
Piglets are undeniably cute, and pigs have remarkable personalities that many people find irresistible. However, it is absolutely essential to provide them with the proper food, enclosures, and medical care to keep them happy, as well as plenty of enrichment and socialization to keep them stimulated. Naps and belly rubs are wonderful too!
For more information, please read these resources from our very own mobile pig vet, Dr. Kristie Mozzachio!
* Potbellied Pig Basics for Owners: https://trianglechanceforall.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/dr-mozzachio-potbellied-pig-basics-for-owners.pdf
* Minipig Body Condition Score Chart: https://trianglechanceforall.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/minipig-body-condition-score-chart.pdf