2017-07-13 / Pets

New column showcases wonderful, weird and lovable pets

PETS AND THEIR PEEPS /// Potbellied pigs
By Ela Lindsay


PIG POWER— Phoebe the pet pig in her Moorpark backyard. This Miss Piggy doesn’t miss too many meals. 
RICHARD SINGER/Acorn Newspapers PIG POWER— Phoebe the pet pig in her Moorpark backyard. This Miss Piggy doesn’t miss too many meals. RICHARD SINGER/Acorn Newspapers When you think of pigs, perhaps Wilbur from the book “Charlotte’s Web” comes to mind. In the story, Charlotte the spider spins a web that spells out the words “some pig” to let everyone know what a wonderful pig Wilbur is.

Because Acorn readers love their pets so much, this new column will showcase the wonderful, sometimes weird but always amazing critters that people hold dear to them.

One Moorpark family loves animals so much they have three pets: two dogs and a potbellied pig named Phoebe, and Phoebe is some pig.

At around 120 pounds and the size of a very rotund retriever, she makes an excellent pet, the owner tells me. She’s trainable, she comes on command, will sit for treats and uses the doggy door to go outside. Phoebe also gets along well with kids and dogs.

The way to this potbellied pet’s heart is through her tummy. She loves strawberries but will eat almost anything, except for bell peppers and the tops of asparagus. However, her diet mostly consists of a mix of hay pellets and dried wheat flakes. She is given 12 ounces of the mixture twice a day.

Although she doesn’t sleep with members of the family like some dogs or cats might, Phoebe has her own bed, and when told to go there she’ll go.

One behavior I found interesting is that if her belly is scratched she’ll literally fall over. In the pet-pig world, there are “fainting” competitions to see who can make their pig fall over the fastest, the owner said.

This family loves pigs so much, this is their second potbelly. The first, named Shana Punim, which means “pretty face” in Hebrew, lived an astounding 21 years, just two months short of the world’s record for being the oldest, the proud owner said.

Generally, these pigs live an average of 13 or 14 years, he said. In Phoebe’s case, she’s 7 now, and the family got her as a rescue when she was about 4 years old.

Potbellied pigs are on the larger size for pet pigs. There are also teacups, that range from 30 to 65 pounds full grown; micro minis, which are typically in the 20- to 30-pound range; and Julianas, also known as painted pigs, grow up to be anywhere from 20 to 50 pounds.

As to where you can find your own pet pig, you can try local animal shelters, like the Agoura Hills shelter has a 5-year-old potbellied pig. You can also search pig rescue organizations or even have piglets shipped to you from reputable and ethical breeders.

As with all animal considerations, make sure to do your homework so you find the right match for you and your family.

If you or someone you know has a great pet, an unusual one or just a special critter at home, please let me know about them by emailing elindsay@theacorn.com.

Pig pros and cons

Advantages

Long life span of 12 to 20 years. Clean and odor-free. Mostly non-allergenic. No fleas. Very little shedding. Quickly trained: litter box, tricks, harness, etc. No barking and nondestructive, unlike a puppy. Low maintenance, annual vet visit. Communicative, affectionate, and intelligent.

Disadvantages

You may not be zoned to own a pig. You may not have a vet available who knows how to treat potbellied pigs. Pigs can become spoiled and manipulative. Pigs require a commitment of time and energy.

(from www.potbellypigs.com)

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