Top tips for keeping pigs as pets
PUBLISHED: 10:42 04 September 2018 | UPDATED: 10:51 04 September 2018
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Janet Devereux of Pigs Inn Heaven gives some pointers to those thinking of keeping pigs as pets
Pigs Inn Heaven is a hotel and care home for mythical micropigs, Kune Kune, pot bellied pigs and terrapins… a hotel for casual residents and those passing through, and care home for those in need of permanent care. We have been rescuing animals for 11 years and rehoming for five years and became a registered charity in November 2016. We set up Pigs Inn Heaven due to the publicity of celebrities having a pet micropig and carrying it around in a bag. At the time we said, “There is going to be a growth in unwanted pet pigs because they will grow too large and become destructive in people’s homes.”
Pigs are genetically close to humans and the fourth most intelligent animal on earth. They can be trained, are very clean and will make their own beds and dig mud wallows with their snouts; the mud wallow is to keep them cool in the summer months, and their snouts are very strong. They can be trained and are very sociable animals, and like to live in groups of at least two.
Myth of a micropig
They become unwanted due to their size, and outgrow the surroundings they live in. Please remember ‘a micropig is a piglet, then it grows’. In some cases pigs are dumped in a field or ill-treated to the point of near death, and terrapins/turtles are dumped in canals, park ponds and in streets.
A rescuing and rehoming scheme is in place depending on what each animal’s needs are. Terrapins can no longer be rehomed. In 2016 The European Parliament and the Council of the European Union have put in place regulations that it is now illegal to sell or buy red eared sliders and yellow belly terrapins. When terrapins come under our care it is for the remainder of their life and in captivity they can live approximately between 30-45 years.
We have rescued pigs from flats, terraced houses, outside space which is too small, and roaming the streets in towns where they have been dumped. Two of our worst rescues were Apache and Ollie. We rescued Apache from a house in Rochdale in February 2017 where the owner had split from his wife and he decided he didn’t want Apache anymore so instead of seeking help and advice he decided not to give him any food, water or straw to bed down on and basically left him to die. The RSPCA were called in to access the situation who then contacted Pigs Inn Heaven to see if we could help and take him immediately. Apache was skin and bone and had sores all along his back and on his legs, the vet said the next 48 hours were critical, thankfully Apache survived with lots of warmth, fresh food and water and around the clock care and now weighs approximately 80kg, he is a very happy and healthy pig.
Ollie was rescued from a pub in Morley, Leeds; he was being sold as bait for a dog fight. A lady overheard the conversation and offered the guy £30 to take Ollie. Once she got home she contacted us for advice and we picked Ollie up at the end of March 2018. Ollie was about eight weeks old and his skin was very inflamed, itchy and scaly, we immediately treated him for mites and contacted the vet who came out immediately and treated Ollie. It took several weeks to gain Ollie’s trust, but he is now a healthy, very cheeky and affectionate pig.
To give a pig a home at Pigs Inn Heaven we charge a fee of £400 per pig – this covers the initial veterinary health check and the first month of care. Please, we cannot stress this enough: do your research, do not just go out and buy a pet pig just because it looks cute.
Anyone thinking of getting a pig please visit our sanctuary first as part of your research, you need to be able to look after a pig for a long time, the life span of a pig is between 10-20 years. It is very important to do your research in advance, if you are told from a breeder that a pig only grows as big as a Labrador please take into account that a pig also grows wider, longer and stronger than a Labrador and in a lot of cases bigger in height.
To rehome a pig you will need to have in place:
• CPH Number & Herd Mark which you can obtain from the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) Telephone 03000 200 301 (without this in place a pig cannot be moved)
• At least 0.5 acre of land and housing outside (a pig arc or shed)
• Be registered with a farm vet
• Hard standing for the pig to walk on
to keep their trotters trimmed
• Mud area to wallow in the
• Food, grass to graze, pig nuts, fresh fruit and vegetables
• Fresh water daily
• Medical costs – worming every
six months, pest control, injury, infection, etc
• Grooming – regular trotter trims if not by you, by your local farm vet; oil to keep their skin moisturised as pigs do have naturally dry skin
• Regular exercise to avoid obesity and joint dysfunction
• Be able to spend time with them;
pigs are very sociable animals
• Standard stock-proof wire fence or electric fencing
• Make sure you wash your hands after handling/petting a pig
• A rehoming check will be carried out prior to the pigs being delivered; if your outside space is not suitable then your request for rehoming will be declined.
The aim of Pigs Inn Heaven is to be able to find a forever home for each pig rescued, and if this is not possible they will live their life out in care. You can support Pigs Inn Heaven by sponsoring a pig or terrapin and send a donation via Paypal through the website.