General Wellbeing for Pet Pigs
Of course, all of our Pet Pig Care information adds up to general wellbeing for pet pigs but here we focus on pigs’ social, emotional and mental wellbeing. It is so important not to underestimate how intelligent and sensitive pigs really are.
Meeting pet pigs’ social needs
Pigs need friends. Except for in very rare circumstances, pet pigs should have the company of their own kind and not be kept on their own. They are social animals who would naturally live in large matriarchal groups, constantly communicating with one another. The benefits of having a companion who also speaks pig and cuddles up with them at night cannot be understated. They can and do get lonely. A lonely pig can become depressed and/or destructive. It is simply not possible for people to provide sufficient social interaction for their pet pigs. As much as we wish we could, we do not speak their language and we can’t snuggle up with them every night.
We get many rehoming requests for lone pigs whose families are no longer able to give them enough time and attention. This is far less of a problem when pigs have other pigs to interact with every day. Rehoming lone pigs like these can be tough for the pig since their old family provided all of their social needs, so they were very strongly bonded with them. Rehoming a Pair or Group of pigs is far less stressful for them because they are not losing all of their family at once.
Pet Pig Introductions
We do, sadly, have many Single Pigs looking for homes. If you are considering adoption please consider rehoming two of them. It is, however, important to note that unfamiliar pigs cannot immediately be put in the same living area together. Time and care must be taken to gradually Introduce them. This ensures they can slowly get to know each other so they can establish their boundaries and become life-long family. Introducing strange pigs too quickly can lead to aggression and even fights. It is yet another reason we are sometimes asked to rehome them.
Managing pet pigs and other species
Many of the pigs we have looking for new homes have already lived around other species. However, introducing a pig to any new animal should be done under strict supervision, even if that pig has encountered other animals of the same species before.
Dogs and horses are worth particular consideration in their interactions with our pet pigs.
Dogs and Pet Pigs
It can be hard to think of our fluffy canine companions as predators, but it is important to remember that in the wild ancestors of our pet dogs would hunt and kill pigs for food. You know your dog better than anyone, so you are the best person to judge how they do or do not interact with your pigs. Just always bear in mind that, essentially, a dog is predator animal and a pig is prey. If a pig becomes spooked and decides to run, even the sweetest, most docile dog’s prey drive can be activated.
Horses and Pet Pigs
Horses can often be scared of pigs. Sometimes, in these circumstances, horses can gradually get used to pigs if they are given the time and space to adapt to their presence. But some horses may always be too frightened to ever go anywhere near pigs or their living quarters. If you, or any of your neighbours, keep horses nearby to where you are planning to have pigs living, you will need to have a contingency plan in place. One or both of them may need to be moved so that everyone can live happily.
Pet Pigs and Other Species
We have seen pigs get along happily with just about every animal commonly domesticated in the UK (and few non domestic ones too) but introducing pigs to any other species should be done with care.
With any new animal interactions the key things to bear in mind, particularly in the early days, are supervision and limitation. You should be present and engaged for the entire interaction and keep their time together short to begin with. Even if an interaction seems to be going well, it is important to separate the animals before either one can become overwhelmed. It’s always better to end an interaction on a positive note. This sets a precedent for more success in developing the relationship going forwards.
To some extent all animals will need to establish the boundaries of their relationship amongst themselves. Early on, however, you should be there and ready to intervene if the interaction becomes too overwhelming or aggressive for either animal. Please read our information on Pig Introductions. Apply and adapt anything you need to in order to achieve successful inter-species introductions and interactions. Please pay particular attention on how to intervene in animal aggression or fights without putting yourself at risk.
Pet Pig Enrichment
As people are becoming increasingly aware, pigs are exceptionally intelligent creatures. They need regular mental stimulation to help prevent boredom which can lead to depression and/or destructive behaviour. The below links are fantastic resources to help you provide your pigs with a huge variety of enrichment.