This little girl and her pet pig are adorable; should your child get one?

By Drum Digital
18 February 2015

Little Libby and her best friend, the pig named Pearl, are inseparable.

Just look at these adorable snaps and videos of the friends playing.

With their bright eyes, wet snouts and soft fur they easily melt animal lover’s hearts. And although owning a pot-bellied pig had previously only been a fad among celebrities these animals are becoming increasingly popular, including in South Africa.

What is a pot-bellied pig?

“Pot-bellied pigs are smaller than farm pigs and live for 12 to 14 years,” says Susan Spencer, author of the Teacup Pig e-book series, who’s bred pot-bellied pigs for 18 years near Modimolle, Limpopo. “As their name suggests they have a distinctive potbelly.” Although pot-bellied pigs are tiny at birth (about 500 g), they grow a lot bigger, says Dr Tom Spencer, a pig expert and lecturer at the University of Pretoria’s faculty of veterinary medicine. “Adult pot-bellied pigs weigh about 45 kg and reach about knee height. Commercial pigs can weigh up to 250 kg and reach about waist height.”

What you need to know about pigs as pets:

- The veterinary costs of keeping pot-bellied pigs are a lot less than that of a cat or dog, says Dr Elsje Pieterse, a researcher and lecturer at the University of Stellenbosch’s department of veterinary sciences.

- Unlike dogs, pigs don’t need a lot of exercise, but it’s good for them, Susan says. “Get a harness that goes around their bodies rather than a leash, which can easily slip over their heads.”

- Pigs aren’t playful and don’t chew your things but a toy with a treat inside will keep them busy. “And they’ll become best friends with your dog,” Dr Pieterse says. “Especially if the grow up together.

- You can’t pick up pot-bellied pigs a lot. “Because they’re so heavy you could put your back out,” Susan says. So if you’re looking for lapdog a pig isn’t for you.

- Susan says pot-bellied pigs need attention – you can’t leave them alone at home all day. Play with them and teach them tricks, just like dogs. It won’t help getting more than one pig because they don’t play with one another.

- Ask the breeder for their vet’s contact details. The vet will be able to tell you if you’re buying a genuine pot-bellied pig.

- Insist on references – preferably from owners who’ve had their pigs for longer than four years. Only then will you be able to see how big the adult pig gets.

Source: Instagram, Youtube

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