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Pot Bellied Pig Health and Information Articles
Just a few of the articles Phyllis has written on the care and well being of Potbellied Pigs.

FAQS Center
Here you will find Questions that people like you have asked Phyllis over the years with her Answers.

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LOTS of pictures of pigs that call Pig Pals Sanctuary home.

Other Critters Picture Page
A few pictures of some of the other critters that call Pig Pals Sanctuary™ home.

King Charles and BinBin

Potbellied Pig FAQ's and Information

Below: General Questions Page 2

Q: It's Wilbur's real Mom (my daughter) has moved in next door and is renting. Wilbur, who has always LOVED the huge yard is living there now. He is soooo happy because he has a doggy door and can go and come as he pleases. He comes over to visit me a lot and everyone is very happy with the whole arrangement.

My daughter has asked me to write to you because he seems to be getting grouchier. Is that a common thing? Wilbur really doesn't like her father-in-law. They were puzzled, but I think it's because Dave goes out into the back yard and smokes. Wilbur thinks he's eating something and huffs at him.

Joyce (my daughter) is sooo puzzled with the grouchiness. When he lived here, I thought it was because he wanted to be out more and I was sure he wouldn't be so grouchy when he moved over there. It's obvious how happy he is with the freedom of coming and going. He's always basking in the sun. It's just when people enter HIS yard that there is a problem. Joyce will be day caring some kids, so we are going to block an area off for just Wilbur, so he can't get to the babies and they can't get to him. Do you have any other suggestions?
Take care! Judy

A: Wilbur is going through the "winter blahs" in general but he also is staking out his territory as far as the father in law goes. This is not abnormal behavior as all pigs seem to have a territorial attitude. For the most part we just live around the problem since I feel it is really part of the nature of the pigs rather than a behavioral problem.

My pigs don't like anyone that invades their space so they all have a place that is their own that no one can go in but me.

Blocking off an area for him is a great idea and will prevent any problems with the kids....that I assume he isn't used to either. I can't think of anything my guys would hate worse than being in contact with a bunch of kids that they don't know.

I can tell you a funny about that....my grandkids learned to walk on the furniture when they were little cause the pigs would chase them if they were on the floor!! After they were ten or so it was OK.

They still don't appreciate strangers but they all have their own place to go away from them so its OK. I hope you will be able to fix his place so he still has his doggy door to go out and in with. As for the huffing...you can give a strong NO if it continues but I think after he has his own space he will be better.....I didn't like my father in law either and guess you could say I huffed at him too.!!

Pigs are a lot like people...they don't always like everyone and they are for sure creatures of habit. They dislike change of any kind. Keep me posted OK.?


Q: I was interested to know how much it usually costs to purchase a pig. I would like to own one, but that obviously plays an important part in figuring out whether or not I am able to. Thanks. Have a great day.
Patrick

A: Hi Patrick, pigs come in all prices. Depending on the area you are in there are many sanctuaries that adopt out at just the cost of the spay or neuter that the pig needs anyway. Some Humane Society's have them for adoption. The St. Louis, Missouri one has several.

If you go to a breeder it can be anywhere from ten dollars to four hundred dollars.

Please do your homework first and make sure that you live where they are legal (zoned for pet pigs) and know that you are making a commitment for the life of the pig. There are many web sites out there that have good info on the pigs. Some not so good also. One of the best is Pigs4Ever.com. Just be careful and if you have questions feel free to e-mail me and ask OK?


Q: I have a potbelly, 2 year old neutered male named Hamlet. I've written to you before about having him neutered. Well he is a dream piggy now, no aggression and is house kept. I am moving to Central Illinois very soon, but have an important question for you.

A neighbor's dog died this summer, OK, and at that time Hammy was living next door to them for a while in my neighbors yard and he escaped a few times. Well, that neighbor told us her vet said her dog died of kidney failure and asked her if he had been in contact with a pig lately? He told them pigs carry a virus that is fatal to other animals. Have you heard of this? A month ago my neighbor's dog next door died of kidney failure, too. He also ate a rabbit he caught and I was told this is very bad, that rabbits should not be eaten before the first frost and this was during the summer. Hammy lives with 5 cats

A: I have never heard anything about a dog being able to have kidney failure from being around a pig. Even farm pigs and the hog farmer next to me has about three hundred hogs and a whole bunch of dogs. We have 9 house pigs and six dogs and four cats that have lived with our pigs for over ten years and there has never been a problem.

They may have been talking about a form of Parvo virus that a lot of farm pigs carry but even then its unlikely that it would be passed to the dogs. The rabbit on the other hand could be true as even hunters don't go hunting if the weather has not given a good hard frost. My dad said it was because the wild rabbits have worms and disease and it takes that hard frost to kill them in the rabbit.

But then again it isn't good to allow a dog to eat any kind of wild life because they could have a multitude of diseases and eating the raw meat can carry it to the dogs. We don't even feed our dogs raw hamburger...it has to be cooked to kill the bacteria. We are kind of in Southern Illinois...where are you moving to??


Q: My mom has a potbelly pig. Her name is "Susie". She is doing fine. I was trying to find a web site that could tell me what the life span of a potbelly pig is. I couldn't find one. I was hoping maybe you could tell me what it is and maybe some more general information. Thanks, Sharman

A: The average life span we have found is between 12 and 15 years. Much like that of a well cared for dog. Main problems in old pigs seems to be arthritis. There are some articles on there that you might want to read.


Q: Hi, Phyllis!

I just sent you an email regarding lumps under my piggy's skin. I have more questions (if you don't mind)...

Q. Little's skin has always been dry and flaky and she scratches a lot. Is this a normal condition? What can I do to help her?

Q. How can I distinguish Little's noises? Sometimes, I think she is happy, then she snaps her head sideways, like she is irritated at me and is trying to bite to tell me to leave her alone. Other times, she coos when my husband gets in the floor and rubs his hair on her nose. What does the loud, sharp honk mean? And what does the "haw haw haw" mean? It almost sounds like she is laughing.

Q. Can I give her fish oil capsules so her bowl movements will be a little smoother? Or should I just pour olive oil on her Mazuri pellets?

Q. Someone told me that giving baby aspirin to a pig is okay when they get hurt. Is this statement true? If so, then how much? I would not do it unless I consulted you and a vet.

Q. My pig will not roll in mud to keep cool. She lightly "dusts" herself, but I feel like she is not cooling off like she should be. I made a nice "starter" mud hole, got on the opposite side of it from her, and tried to coax her over to me. She stuck up her nose and walked AROUND the mud hole. I even bought her a kiddy pool to soak in, and she refused to go near it. Is "dusting" enough to keep her cool in the hot NC weather? I am afraid to put sunblock on her because I don't know how sensitive her skin is. What do you suggest?

Q. Her teeth are yellowed...I am afraid she will lose them and have trouble eating. She chews on rawhide chews, Greenies, and gets crunchy veggies for snacks, yet nothing has improved. Is the yellowing a natural process or do I need to get out the beef flavored tooth paste for her?

Q. Since it is summer, I leave Little outside all day, except when the temperature is unbearable. (Same for the wintertime.) I often visit her and talk to her, but I feel like she is really lonely. She spends her time rooting and foraging and standing underneath the bird feeders. I know you are not a pig interpreter, but do you think she is happy doing this every day, all day long? We want her to have a good life, and so, we do what we can to make her happy. If only piggies could talk! Thank you and hope to hear from you soon! Quincy

A: I think your pig is extremely happy..... as well she should be. The bird feeder is because the birds drop stuff when they eat!! Good place to pick up a bite or two. Fish oil is great for the pigs....helps with the coat...the stools and also my vet says arthritis prevention.

The yellow teeth is more natural than most of us think and even if she didn't have a tooth in her head it wouldn't keep her from eating her food. Inside the pigs mouth in the roof are these large ridges...that's what they crush their food with.

Pig sounds differ with the pig. Some bark like a dog and that's a play sound. The very soft hub hu hu is saying I love you. The swinging the head at you is just what you said...she isn't trying to bite but she is telling you "leave me alone" this happens a lot when they go to bed at night and don't want to be bothered.

She hasn't used her mud hole or pool because evidently she doesn't see the need to it. Most of my indoor outdoor pigs don't use one either cause they know they can come in if its unbearable hot. Always make it available to her and if she feels the need she will use it. If she was a white pig than you could use unblock on her ....my black pigs have never needed it and the white ones in the house don't get it cause they don't stay out that long. Your pig has a terrific coat so I doubt that she would need it. A baby aspirin wont hurt her if she is in pain given just once or twice with food. I don't make a habit of using it real often because of the chance of stomach ulcers but it does relieve a leg injury or something like that.

All pigs itch and have dry skin but let me know the last time you gave her Ivomectin for mange, lice and worms? We do it twice yearly here and you can buy the horse wormer that has 1% Ivomectin and dial her weight on the paste tube or get a dose of the injectable from your vet. (We give the injectable but do it by mouth here rather than stick them and it works just as well.

The one thing that I would lay off of if I was you is the rawhide chewies. I don't like those for the pigs because of the digestion or possibility of a blockage with a piece that didn't digest.


Q: My friend has a piggy. She had to move and the piggy is almost a year old. He is an escape artist from her property, so I told her I would pig sit for her. If I get along with the piggy, I am considering adopting him from her. He is a fraidy cat though. How easy is it to train a piggy? Jamie

A: Not hard to train at all but you need to give him time to get used to you. Also the escape artist kind of makes me wonder if he has been neutered. If not its important that you get him done as they are hard to make a pet out of if they haven't been neutered.


Q: The sister of a friend of mine took in a potbellied pig a few years ago that was abandoned by the "backyard" breeder during a messy divorce. She is afraid of him so she hasn't interacted with him other than feeding him. 

He has never had shots but seems healthy. She just wanted to keep him alive in hopes of finding him a good home someday. She has become unable to work and lost the place where she has the pig housed. She left him there but still goes back to feed him. The new resident wants the pig out no matter how he is taken "out".  I became involved after a desperate call early yesterday morning for help from the caretaker, Marj. She's afraid the little guy will be shot if she doesn't get him out of there.  She said he is about 5 years old and all alone in a pen that isn't easily accessible and doesn't even know how to get him to go with her. The new resident gave her a deadline of today. What can we do? 

I have looked on the web for any kind of rescue in our area and there doesn't appear to be any. Any assistance you could provide would be greatly appreciated. If I had a fenced in yard I'd try to keep him for a little while. I already have four cats that I rescued over the years and I don't think they would get along with him either. I just don't know what to do and it breaks my heart to tell her I have no answers. Please help! Sincerely, Jenni

A: An unfriendly pig is almost easier to move than a friendly one. Use a large size pet carrier and place it against the inside of the fence then use a hog panel as a funnel runway into the crate. (Or any other type of long but movable fence type stuff.) The people living there need to know that she is really trying to get him out and that it would be best for all if they helped rather than hindered. Even a call to animal control is better than nothing as this is considered a pet animal and even if they dont know what they are doing they can get in touch with people that will tell them how.

Tell the people living there that she is contacting animal control for help and that he is considered a pet that lets them know that shooting him or other means of getting rid of him is not acceptable. You don't say what area of the country you are in, but there are many associations and rescues all over the states that she should have contacted by now for help moving him. Most are glad to help and most have ideas of how to do it the humane way with places to take him afterward. Try looking on  a web site called Pigs As Pets for a list of sanctuaries and rescues in different areas of the country. The address is www.pigsaspets.org  

Thank you so much for replying.  We were successful in finding someone to take him to a new home. He had a choice of 3 places as of late Friday. It's wonderful to see people work so hard to save these poor abandoned piggies.  They deserve the same respect as any other pet and it still amazes me how cruel people can be in order to get their way. I'm sure this little piggy will be just fine now thanks to the outpouring of help from so many nice folks.  Thank you from all of us who worked to make sure he had a happy ending. 


 

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Q: I'm getting a pot belly pig in August, I have been reading all that I can about them. I am not sure about the type of food that is recommended more than others. I need to get some info from pig owners that have done this a lot longer than I have. I am very excited about the pig coming into our lives, I have made arrangement's where I work to be able to bring the pig back and forth to work with me do to the amount of time they need.

I want to be as prepared as possible and to get as much knowledge as possible, so I can make this the best experience for me and the pig. I have been around animals all my life and don't want to do anything to hurt or deprive them. I have already found a vet that is willing and has knowledge on caring for the pig. I have a couple of questions:

Can you crate a pig in a dog kennel (extra large)?

Just want to know the does and don't. They say pigs are smart but when there is time that the pig is home alone can I crate him/her? That way they cant eat or get into things. I know they say they are like a three year old they can get into any thing. I know my three year old did.
I don't want to scare any one I just need to get more info!!!!

What is the best type of food to feed a pot belly pig?? I need a couple of types due to availability in my area. Please help me with any other info that you think I may need. Thank You, Lori

A: Lori, check out my website on line there are articles on there etc. and question and answer pages. Several things you need to think about.

Age of the pig you are getting. They should not be weaned till 6 weeks and by the time you get it it should be eating pellet potbellied pig chow. Taking a baby away from a mom early is asking for problems. Mom teaches them to eat and many other things that they don't get if they are taken away too soon. Their immune system isn't good when this is done to them and if they develop diarrhea you can lose them.

There are many brands of feed out there and any that come from BIG companies is good food. Don't use one made by individuals or back yard feed company. Purina has one that is pretty much nation wide called Mazuri, but some farm stores have their own brands such as Manna Pro that is good feed.

As for crating....I don't like it during the day time. These guys are only babies for a short time and they go to bed early so if they are crated most of the day it doesn't give them much time to run and play and learn to interact. We keep young babies in a play pen and give them toys and stuff in there until they are big enough to let outside to potty. All pigs need outside time in a fenced area that is safe to snuffle and do piggy things.


Q: Hello. My name is Eileen, and I have a wonderful 1 year old PBP that needs a new home. His name is Hamlet, and he has always been a house pig. Until lately he has had the run of the house, but then we discovered he had been peeing on the carpet. We had to have our entire upstairs redone. We did it in hardwood so that Hamlet wouldn't find it so inviting...he still peed there.

Now he is only allowed in the kitchen and family room areas which is plenty of space, but it separates him for me and my husband quite a lot as our offices are upstairs. Hamlet used to come up and nap under my desk while I rubbed him all over with my feet.

I love Hamlet to death, but find that he is not fitting in with the rest of our family. My husband likes him, but I can't say there is any bond there. In fact aside from me he really hasn't a friend in the world. He is terrified of our Grandchildren who come to visit at least once a week.

And that's why I am thinking that he would be happier with another piggy friend. Getting another PBP isn't an option for us as we have 4 dogs and Hamlet which puts us at our limit of domestic pets for the area we live in.

This has not been an easy decision for me to make, and I know that you may not be able to help, but your sanctuary looks to be the best place for Hamlet, and quite honestly the best place for me to picture him spending his life. If you could take him, I will be very grateful...If you cannot, perhaps you can give me some direction as to where else I might turn. I look forward to hearing from you.

A: You can bet Eileen that if given the choice of less room and leaving his mom and dad, Hamlet would still opt for being with you even if he had NO room. I keep going back and reading your post again and again.

We have 92 unwanted, given up, pigs here now with ten of them as house pigs who have major problems. Pigs don't even LIKE other pigs, much less want to live with them. Unless they are raised together it takes years to get them to tolerate each other inside. My entire house is divided into sections keeping them separate. Probably the only home in the country done with early American"hog panel" inside.

I really don't know where to start with this post since I love all pigs completely and try to look at it from their side too. Hamlet is going into puberty and some things are to be expected a lot like with teenagers. His pee problem can be fixed by retraining....he shouldn't have run of the house and probably shouldn't have had it at such a young age. He spent a year doing it where he shouldn't and no one said anything so it became a habit. If he isn't doing it in the kitchen or family room right now than it was just that...a habit.

There are several things you can do now that would work for both you and Hamlet. Why can't he go upstairs with you to the office for a short period of time after going out to do his business....WITH supervision of course and making him stay in the room with you. I'm assuming of course that Hamlet has access to the outdoors for his potty time. Pigs need that and they HATE going in a litter box when they are grown.

Or you can do as your doing and just give him a place downstairs that is his and spend time with him in the evenings. As for Grandkids..one time a week he will survive them but they shouldn't be allowed to aggravate him either. It would be nice if he had a place of his own to be away from them that you don't ALLOW them to go to. Pile his blankies in one place and that is his territory or make use of a bathroom or wash room for the time they are there and tell them to leave him alone as long as he is in his own territory. (My grandkids learned to walk on my furniture because my pig would chase them.)

The good news is that when the pigs get older they do nothing and ask for nothing other than a good bed, food on a schedule, and a pat on the tummy once in a while from those they love. We have helped people keep their pigs when they were absolutely destructive...tearing the house apart. They did what I do here...built a 5x6 pen in the house that the pig gets fed in and soon learns that this is a safe spot where they can sleep and have peace. Even with the door open they will choose to go there to rest or watch the rest of the house and venture out in the evenings when their favorite person is there. Hamlet is not even destructive, he just is confused about where the potty should go.

Even though I think our sanctuary is the best going....Hamlet would not think so! It is a terrible shock for an only child to be brought in with other animals and no Mom. Putting a pig in a good sanctuary is like putting a dog in the best shelter you can find. They get fed, watered, bedded and vetted, but there is little time for the one on one attention that they are used to at home. These pigs are so much more intelligent than dogs and they grieve terrible when taken out of their home. They don't understand what they did wrong that made Mom leave them. Some don't care to eat some get angry and become biters for a while and all of them go through a depression that is hard to watch.

The house pigs suffer much worse than ones that came in from being outside pets. Even though house pets are our specialty it still isn't easy on the pig. Having said all this (for a long page or two) PLEASE think about this for a while and try some of the suggestions so he can stay in the only home he has ever known. They are a lot like kids and even though there were times I wanted to send the kids away (couldn't find any sanctuaries for kids! LOL) they got better with time and I was glad I didn't give up on them. You are the most important thing in Hamlets life, his friend, his provider and his Mom. Get back to me with any thoughts OK?...And give that boy a tummy rub from me.

***************

Q: Dear Phyllis, Thank you for getting back to me about my Hamlet. Your letter really gave me some new insights as to just how my little piggy sees me...his mom. And I am that to him. I talked with my husband and he is willing to give Hamlet the benefit of the doubt and make a new start as far as the potty training goes. I think you are right when you say it is mostly 'bad habits'. We will watch him more carefully, and hopefully he will get to be an office pig again!

Once again, thank you! Eileen

A: SO GLAD TO HEAR THIS!!! I have been thinking about him...guess cause I get to see that lost look in their eyes so often when they come in here. We try our best but we can't compare with HOME!!! Hopefully things will work out for you and him....and hubby. Put him on a schedule that is good for you and don't very it and give him limited access until your sure you got through to him and I think you will do OK. Give him a tummy rub for me and stay in touch OK?


Q: We had a elderly man come by and said his father was dieting and was unable to care for his pig. He heard that we take in animals. He had (Star) in a large trash barrel in the back of a truck. We couldn't say no. We unloaded her. I have never been around a pig never mind a 100lb pig. He said she was a house pig. We could not get look in her ears as they have dry blood in them and she can not see from the rolls over her eyes. We spent most of the night outside with her and got her to come over to her blankets. But every time she hears a truck she cries out for her daddy and wonders around the yard. By 2:00am I was able to get her lying down by talking to her and she fell asleep. 'We took turns all night & morning keeping watch over Star. She is so sad. Sorry, my question is he has fed her so badly would a diet help her eyes? How do I train her to go were we need her to go with out losing it ? Heidi

A: Patience is the key with one like this Heidi. Bless your heart for taking her in. They hate change and they do grieve when taken from their homes. Yes a diet may help the problem and help her to get around better but pigs have such poor eyesight to begin with that most cant see well by the time they are grown. You could supplement the pig chow with Quaker Oats...fed dry. Never change completely to the oats...they need the nutrition from the pig chow but you can feed half and half and that will help. As for moving her....give her time....it takes weeks to get them over this feeling of being deserted....some get mad and aggressive some just decide its not worth the effort to go on. You are doing the right thing right now by just being there for her without pushing her to do anything. She WILL get better with you. Then you can put food in a can and shake it and she will follow you.


Q: We've recently purchased two pot bellies (females). One is 4 yrs old, and the other is just a youngun. The younger one (approx. 14 weeks old) has started to "foam at the mouth" but, her eating habits/energy level/etc. is perfectly fine. Is this a problem that should be looked into? Bryna

A: That's pretty normal for a young one and even some of the old ones. They usually do it when they are anticipating FOOD!


Q: I am supposed to pick up my pig today, but after more research, I'm having second thoughts. Here was our plan. This female pig is 12 weeks old. We were planning on an outside pet. Everything we have been reading now, leads me to believe they are better inside. We planned to put her in a 12 X 24 horse stall that has been enclosed so our horses cannot reach her. Because they are pack animals, do they get lonely if they do not have a companion pig? We wanted to let the pig roam around the yard (2 acres) when we are outside but keep it in its pen when we are at work. Also, we have a pool. We plan to keep the pool area closed but accidents can happen, do pigs swim? Thank you for you help. We would not want to make a mistake with this. Diane 

A: Diane, Your plan with an outside pig sounds great to me. These pigs do fine outside or inside. As you probably read on our web page we have 80 of them and NO not all 80 are inside the house. We do have house pigs but they are the old or the ones with major problems or they came that way as grown pigs. With you working, your idea sounds just right. You can't hardly do an inside pig with all the training etc. If you work and the pig would have to be confined if inside. They love being let out in the yard during good weather but she will do just fine in the large horse stall the rest of the time. It's probably more room than she would be allowed to run if she was in the house while you are gone. Depending on what area of the country you are in I might suggest adding an igloo or sleeping box of some kind inside the stall for cold weather. (Ours have sleeping boxes inside the barns in the winter but it gets very cold here in IL in the winter.) 

Since she is going to be out there you might want to think about a companion for her to play with, but only if it comes from the same litter or if she is already used to it otherwise they do fight. She will manage alone but it is nice if when they are young they have the company if both parents work. They don't stay babies for long and they don't do much playing when they are grown. It sounds to me like you would make an ideal home for her and believe me she will do fine either way. If your a horse person I have faith in you with a pig....horse people make good moms! Hope this helps.

Forgot to answer your question about swimming. No pigs don't swim very well....they do swim but only for short periods of time....but they are very smart and if the pool is blocked off, you shouldn't have a problem they don't like water that they can't touch bottom on. Yes accidents can happen to anything, but if we didn't take pig in because there was a chance of accidents none of these poor homless ones here would have a place to live. You take the precautions you can to avoid problems, but you can't always cover everything. In hot weather just make sure she has her own kiddie pool to lay in and I bet she won't be interested in your pool.  


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