Animals: Mini pigs as pets - experts warn of trend

Mini pigs are often given to Sabine Bracker at the sanctuary near Ebstorf in the Lüneburg Heath.

Animals: Mini pigs as pets - experts warn of trend

Mini pigs are often given to Sabine Bracker at the sanctuary near Ebstorf in the Lüneburg Heath. “It is unbelievable how many pigs live in isolation as dog substitutes,” reports the “Pig Protector”. Pigs are there to cuddle with, but they are not cuddly toys. Many people don't even know that these cute little piglets require a lot of work in the long run.

Particular attention should be paid to hoof care and nutrition. “To keep the pigs small, some only feed them oatmeal and quark, others simply give the animals leftover food,” reports Bracker. The result: Many pigs come to her fat, and the malnutrition affects their joints and organs. “Mini pigs don’t belong in private hands,” she says.

Sometimes aggressive too

At the latest when the small domestic pigs reach sexual maturity, when they can also be aggressive, many owners give them up again: "On average, they last three years." A mini pig must weigh less than 100 kilograms, the average shoulder height is 50 centimeters, and the body length is just under one meter. With her non-profit organization, Bracker cannot accommodate everyone. It also relies on donations to keep operations running in Lower Saxony.

The Lüneburg district veterinary office is even talking about a new trend towards mini pigs. However, the animals would have to be kept in such a way that it corresponds to their species and disease protection is guaranteed. They are subject to special animal protection and animal disease regulations and must be registered. Open-range and free-range livestock must be reported due to possible animal diseases.

Don't walk the dog

"Pigs, even if they are small, are not cuddly toys. Their attitude cannot be compared to that of dogs or cats. They have completely different needs," says Jochen Gronholz, head of the veterinary department. You are not doing the animals any favors if you keep them in your apartment and take them for a walk.

The expert is critical of the trend, and not just from an animal protection perspective. The husbandry can also have an impact on the spread of diseases such as African swine fever, Aujeszky's disease or foot and mouth disease.

Leftover food is taboo

“Many people are not aware that we have to approve the keeping,” says Gronholz. The small pigs could also transmit animal diseases. Special regulations for medication care apply to them. In the worst case, they spread a virus to large populations. For example, their runs have to be double fenced, even in the home garden. Another important rule: Keepers should not feed food leftovers. Many swine fever outbreaks could be traced back to this.

According to experts, mini pigs are very docile animals. They have achieved remarkable achievements in studies. For example, Hungarian researchers reported that mini pigs raised in families can solve tasks more independently than dogs. However, it is best to keep them outside and always at least in double packs, as they are rotten animals. A rented apartment in particular is not a suitable environment. Animal protection associations are fundamentally critical of the attitude.