You’ve probably seen countless videos of teacup pigs circulating online. They’ve been caught on camera being bottle-fed, swimming cheerfully with rubber ducks, and snuggling with kittens and puppies, and getting belly rubs.
Regardless of what they do, teacup pigs are undeniably cute and irresistible.
Over the years, these little four-legged creatures transitioned from being farm animals to beloved pets. They go by names such as mini pig, miniature pig, micro pig, and pygmy pig.
Adorable as they are, there are some shocking facts about these so-called “teacup” pigs that you should know before getting one.
Keeping a teacup pig as a pet can incur some severe consequences to the owner and the pig itself. Read on to know why you should think twice about adding a teacup pig to your family.
1. There’s actually no such thing as “teacup” pigs
The word “teacup” is just a term used by breeders to identify pot-bellied pigs or potbelly pigs that have stunted growth.
In essence, teacup pigs are the smallest pigs in a litter of pot-bellied pigs. They are comparable to the runts of a dog or cat litter.
Compared to standard farm pigs, pot-bellied pigs only weigh anywhere between 100 and 200 pounds. Meanwhile, breeders claim to produce teacup pigs that only weigh between 10 and 12 pounds. However, the smallest pig usually weighs 60 to 80 pounds.
In terms of height, a fully grown mini pig can range from 14 to 20 inches tall at the shoulder.
To see how tiny a teacup pig looks, watch this video:
Unfortunately, teacup pigs are bred unethically by backyard breeders. They do not conform to any breed standard since the resulting pig is purposely malnourished or underweight.
2. There’s no breeding standard for teacup pigs
As mentioned, breeders use non-standard methods to produce miniature pigs. The most common breeding techniques used are inbreeding and starvation. These poor breeding practices result in hampered growth of bones and muscles.
In inbreeding, two closely related pigs that are small in size are bred together. However, this method produces a small pig with many health issues due to a lack of genetic diversity. It’s highly likely that their parent pigs can pass on undesirable traits.
The more closely related the parents are, the higher the probability that the unwanted traits will impact the offspring’s health and overall well-being.
Starvation is the cruelest way to breed a teacup pig. To ensure that the pigs maintain a smaller stature, breeders underfeed and restrict their diets. As a result, the pig’s bone structure remains underdeveloped until adult age.
The American Mini Pig Association (AMPA) is currently taking steps to improve the breeding practices for miniature pigs.
They also aim to educate interested pig owners about the different size standards and the advantages and disadvantages of owning a mini pig.
3. Their small size poses a lot of health risks
It’s a hard pill to swallow, but mini pigs can have detrimental health issues due to their size. These conditions affect their daily lives and cause them to suffer prematurely.
Some of the health problems that teacup pigs can encounter are listed below:
- Bone Deformities: Because of their underdeveloped bone structure, teacup pigs can experience various bone-related problems as they age. Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease (DJD), is one of the common conditions they experience. This is characterized by lameness and swelling of the joints.
- Obesity: Pigs love to eat, and teacup variations are no exception. Gaining weight can pose a great risk to their health due to their size. They become more vulnerable to heatstroke, especially when left outdoors. In some cases, obesity can also cause hearing loss.
- Respiratory Problems: Pygmy pigs are also susceptible to respiratory illnesses such as atrophic rhinitis and pneumonia. Atrophic rhinitis is a nasal infection characterized by sneezing, coughing, and a runny nose. Meanwhile, pneumonia is marked by coughing, rapid breathing, dehydration, and lack of appetite.
In addition, it can be tough to find a vet that can willingly treat these illnesses, especially if there is a medical emergency.
You should already secure a veterinarian that you can consult anytime before getting a micro pig.
Health risks are one of the major reasons why teacup pigs are strongly discouraged from being kept as pets. Breeding them is a form of animal cruelty that should be regulated immediately.
4. Teacup pigs have very short lifespans
Due to the numerous health issues mentioned in the previous point, the cute teacup pigs we see online may not live for very long.
The lifespan of a pot-bellied pig is around 12 to 18 years. However, a teacup pig is only expected to live around five years.
Genetic disorders brought about by inbreeding contribute mainly to their shorter lifespans. They often have skeletal issues and compromised immune systems that lead to other complications.
It is also very unlikely that vet clinics will accept teacup pigs. Since they are not widely accepted as pets, you may not find veterinarians who will treat them or give medical prescriptions.
The key to extending your miniature pig’s life is through proper nutrition and regular vet consultations.
You should also only purchase from a reputable breeder that can guarantee that your pig is not genetically predisposed to certain diseases.
5. Teacup pigs require a large space for moving around
Pigs are generally curious animals, so they require an environment to freely explore, sniff around, and chew grass.
Because of this, teacup pigs are best suited to be kept outdoors where they can carry out their daily activities.
If kept indoors, mini pigs can develop destructive and aggressive behavior or have too much fun rummaging through your kitchen. Since they easily get bored, you might come home to a chaotic home.
To avoid this, you should put them in a spacious yard with proper fencing to ensure their safety.
Since teacup pigs are considered prey species, this will protect them from larger predators like wild dogs, coyotes, wolves, and bears.
6. Teacup pigs need suitable housing
Keeping a teacup pig outdoors also means providing a comfortable enclosure or shelter. They can’t tolerate extreme weather conditions, so they need to stay in a house fit for tiny piglets during hot summers and cold winters.
It’s also ideal if the space is temperature-regulated and covered enough to avoid insects from getting inside.
You should also include toys that are pet-friendly and don’t break easily. The area should also be covered with newspaper or brown paper where they can nest and fall asleep comfortably.
The ideal temperature for teacup pigs depends on their age. For older piglets, it’s 84°F (29°C), while for juvenile pigs, the temperature should be 75°F (24°C).
Meanwhile, adult pigs should be kept in a place with temperatures ranging from 63 to 77°F (17 to 25°C).
You should also consider how your tiny pig will be housed and cared for while you’re away from home. Unlike other animals, there may not be many sitters willing to watch over your pet mini pig.
7. You may get arrested for owning one
Another surprising fact about miniature pigs is that they are not legal everywhere. This means you might end up behind bars by keeping a small pet pig, depending on where you live.
If you’re from the United States, you should be aware of the zoning laws that apply to your state.
It’s also very likely that your municipality or city limits keeping pigs and other farm animals as pets.
Even if it’s legal to own a teacup pig in your area, you may still undergo various screenings to make sure that your home is suitable for small pigs. You may also need to complete several documents before you can take your pig home.
With a bit of research, we can avoid overburdening shelters and rescue groups that accept surrendered miniature pigs from uninformed owners. Many pigs also end up being euthanized yearly because of neglect and abandonment.
8. These pigs like to form “packs”
Both smaller and larger pig breeds are social animals that like to bond with one another. Like dogs and cats, they often sleep and play together. In the wild, they are known to live in communities called sounders.
If restricted from socializing with other pigs, your pet pig might end up getting restless or even depressed. They may also show aggressiveness through charging and biting.
Instead of keeping one pig, you should consider getting them as a pair. However, you may find it more challenging and, of course, more expensive to have two tiny piglets growing up in your house.
This means you’ll have to double your expenses for food, vet visits, and other necessities.
9. Teacup pigs are quite expensive
If you wish to own one of these tiny but intelligent animals, you need to prepare a whopping amount of money.
Teacup pigs sold by reputable breeders are often priced between $750 and $3,500. Of course, the purchasing price is just the beginning of your expenses.
Cheaper teacup pot-bellied pigs are offered by backyard breeders. However, when a backyard breeder shows you photos of the parent pigs, you might be surprised to find out that you’re looking at actual piglets.
This is a common strategy to prove that they are selling teacup varieties when, in fact, they are just selling normal-sized pot-bellied pigs. Those who want to save money end up spending more on a large pig.
After buying your mini pig, you need to secure your budget for food, vet check-ups, vaccinations, toys, and other supplies. You may need to spend a couple of thousands of dollars each year for a miniature pig.
10. Teacup pigs need to be spayed or neutered early
Mature pigs, regardless of their size, can be quite aggressive. Therefore, it’s highly recommended that male pot-bellied pigs be neutered at a young age. Spaying female mini pigs can also be done but this practice is not common.
The procedure should be performed by a licensed veterinarian as early as three to four months old.
Aside from preventing a litter of 14 piglets, spaying and neutering can prevent unruly behavior and reduce the risk for certain types of cancer.
However, you should note that finding a vet that is willing to perform this surgery can be challenging for owners.
11. You need to consider their diet and nutrition
Since most teacup pigs are starved, you should pay attention to their overall nutrition. In general, pigs are omnivores that require a restricted diet consisting of essential proteins, vitamins, minerals, and carbohydrates.
Commercial feeds can be easily found in pet stores, but they don’t usually contain a balance of these nutrients.
Leftover human food can be given as long as it’s not spoiled or toxic to pigs. You can also throw in some vegetables and fruits for a complete meal.
However, before giving them anything, make sure to know which food can cause digestive issues or those that contain certain allergens.
You can feed your teacup pig two to three times a day. Farm-bred pot-bellied pigs can consume as much as four to seven pounds of food every day. However, each mini pig should be fed according to their specific health requirements.
As a last reminder, don’t give dog or cat food as an alternative to pig-formulated feed.
12. You have to deal with smelly manure
Many people think pigs are smelly animals since they like rolling around in the mud. However, pigs are actually very clean and typically have no smell at all! They only roll in the mud to cool themselves off since they don’t have sweat glands.
However, one thing that’s funky-smelling about mini pigs is their manure. If you have neighbors, you should expect a few complaints since most people say it smells worse than a horse or cow excrement.
Pig manure is also very toxic because it contains bacteria and high levels of nitrate, nitrite, and heavy metals.
This is especially true if you feed chemically-manufactured feed to your teacup pig. In some cases, it can cause headaches, nausea, and dizziness.
Regardless, you should have a proper waste disposal system in your home before getting a miniature pig.
13. Teacup pigs may not get along with other animals
Teacup pigs are friendly animals, but they might not get along with other household pets. They can live peacefully with cats, but it’s a whole other conversation with dogs. Their behavior around them is more unpredictable.
Since dogs are considered the larger predator of pigs, they often bully or attack teacup pigs. Even when they’ve been around each other for a while, there is a natural tendency for them to become enemies.
Aggression is often observed, especially when food is being served. It’s recommended to always keep interactions between dogs and mini pigs supervised.
Using positive reinforcement, you can train your dog to be comfortable in socializing with other animals.
Pigs are highly intelligent creatures, and they work best with owners who have a good understanding of their behavior.
Unlike dogs, they can’t be enrolled in training classes, so you have to rely on your own ability to handle them.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Teacup Pigs Stay Small?
Teacup pigs are falsely advertised as 10 to 12 pounds, but their full-grown adult size is actually 60 to 80 pounds.
This means that these pigs don’t stay tiny as they grow up. They are most likely a product of starvation.
Meanwhile, teacup pigs produced from inbreeding may remain small until adulthood due to their genes.
Do Teacup Pigs Smell?
Teacup pigs don’t smell at all. In fact, they are clean and odorless animals that don’t even sweat. However, males may start to have a funky smell as they develop scent glands as they mature.
Do Teacup Pigs Bite?
Most owners report that their teacup pig is prone to biting. If they aren’t disciplined early, they will snap back and assert dominance in the household.
It’s essential to take the necessary steps to improve this behavior before it becomes harder to manage.
Do Teacup Pigs Make Good Pets?
Even though they are considered farm animals, teacup pigs make great companion animals to a compatible owner. As house pets, they need to be well taken care of in order to live comfortably.
Unlike dogs and cats, there are no actual domesticated pigs. They can easily bond with humans but may take some time to get used to other pets.
Final Thoughts: Should You Buy a Teacup Pig?
Wanting to own a teacup pig as a pet isn’t a bad idea if you think you are equipped with the right knowledge and living in an ideal environment for this smaller breed of pigs.
However, you must also consider the ethical issues surrounding the process of breeding these animals.
You must also think about the various health issues that a teacup can experience due to its non-standard size.
As an owner, you should ask yourself if you are willing to accept this possibility. There’s also the financial aspect that comes with this consideration.
Overall, it’s at your discretion if you want to purchase or adopt a pot-bellied teacup pig and bring a new kind of joy to the family.