As a person who has had not one, but TWO pigs as pets I feel very satisfied that I have the required knowledge and experience to answer this question honestly.
No. Pigs DO NOT make good pets.
I’m sure there will be many people out there who will vehemently disagree with me. I would have been one of those naieve people, once upon a time, who would have aggressively attacked anyone who dared to say that pigs are not good pets. “They are smarter than dogs!!!” I would have shouted in their face. “AND cleaner than Rohan!!!” (like this is some amazing feat).
In Australia, despite what many ‘breeders’ will tell you, there are NO SUCH THING AS MINI PIGS. If anyone is selling exhorbitantly priced ‘mini’ pigs then they are basically selling you a selectively bred smaller pig that they then urge you to starve, in order to keep it’s small stature.
Our first beloved pig was named Moo. We bought him off a girl who had paid $1000 to have him shipped up from New Castle to the Sunshine Coast so that she could keep him in her handbag and parade him around in a Paris Hilton-esque way. Poor girl didn’t last 2 months with Moo before her 300msq backyard was trashed and she was being threatened with eviction from her landlord.
We bought Moo to our 5 acre property where we thought he would have plenty of room to scratch around, roll in mud and live out his life as a happy as a pig in shit. Moo stayed with us for 2 years where we loved and cared for him like he was one of our dogs. He LOVED my kids. Unfortunately, he wasn’t fond of other people’s kids and as he got bigger, and grew tusks like razors, we began to realise that perhaps he was a bit of a liability.
Pigs are STRONG and he was one temper tantrum away from tearing the arm of an unsuspecting visitor to our property who happened to have a piece of food in their hand that he wanted. It was a very difficult decision to make but we decided to rehome him to an animal sanctuary where we could visit him often and would pay for his upkeep.
Whilst visiting Moo we learned that the animal sanctuary was under a lot of stress and they had piglets coming out of their wazoo’s. One in particular was on deaths door and needed around the clock care. The piglet was the size of a rat and had been beaten up by it’s brothers and sisters.
We offered to take the piglet in to lessen their burden with the goal of rehabilitating the piggie and then when she got too much for us, returning her to the sanctuary. Poppy the pig needed around the clock care which my children diligently undertook. They nursed her back from deaths door to a healthy pig who thought she was human. We kept her on as by this stage the sanctuary had shut down (poor old Moo was sent off to who knows where) and we thought that since she had been hand raised, things would be different.
Unfortunately nature has a way of interfering with these things and even though she was hand raised she still became a big fat pig who had the capability of killing a small child or animal if she saw fit. We persevered and tried everything in our power to keep her happy. She was well fed with good food, played with, loved and spoiled rotten. However, a fence was no barrier to her and even though she loved us unconditionally, her menstrual cycle would bring with it a stroppy, moody, teenage piggie whose mood swings could potentially result in torn off limbs.
Pigs are not to be messed with when they are menstrual and toey/randy/horny.
So it is with the greatest of sadness that we decided to rehome Poppy. She brang us 2.5 years of joy and not many kids can say that they got to hand raise a pig. We contacted lots of animal sanctuaries but no one was taking pigs long term. Realising how delicious she would be I tried to convince the kids that perhaps we could sell her to a butcher and donate the money to an animal sanctuary. This was not a popular idea.
The best idea that we could come up with was a farmer who lived outside of Stanthorpe who had had to shoot all his pigs last year, due to the drought, and wanted to start re-breeding now that his property was in better condition. I have a soft spot for farmers and really appreciate the work they do. I was also happy that Poppy would finally get to have a big curly penis in her and deliver a whole bunch of piglets – just like nature intended.
Poppy’s journey to her new home did not go smoothly. It took two hours to coax her in the back of Ben’s enclosed ute (I really should have live streamed the video and my commentary of the efforts to get her in there – comic gold!!) and 5 minutes for her to smash through the back of his ute and jump out on the side of the road, a few km’s from our house.
Fucking disaster. I was then tasked with babysitting Poppy, Kylah and Rohan on the side of the road while Ben fixed Frankie (our Landcruiser who was in pieces as Ben was making her more Fogan-ish* in readiness for our next upcoming 4wd adventure) and then drive a 1.5 hour round trip to pick up a horse float.
In order to keep Poppy in place on the side of the road I decided to relinquish my emergency stash of valium and temazapan to try to tranquilise her a bit. She was on the side of a very busy road and right next to Tingalpa Creek. Had she wandered far and gone feral she would have done a lot of damage to the environment. Or ran on to the road and taken out a car full of people. We stuffed the drugs in to a croissant and she happily consumed them. Before I did this I rang at least 7 different emergency vets and animal rescue places and none were helpful. The most useful advice I got was to sedate her and get a horse float.
The drugs hardly touched the sides. She did not seem very tranquil at all. It took poor old Kylah 4 hours of pig entertaining to stop her being hit by a car or going feral in the Tingalpa Reserve.
We had lots of people stop. The first was a bloke who loved piggin’ and wouldn’t have minded taking her for the eating. I almost wish I’d offered her to him. He was lovely and spent ages talking to us about how he’d raised piglets (for eating) and loved pigs. “Top animals!!” he exclaimed. To be fair, they are top animals/pets until they reach puberty, which is when he would probably do the eating part.
Next to stop were the vegans. The were not happy with the plan to take Poppy to a farmer (who they suspected may use her to breed pigs for eating) and offered to help find her a sanctuary. Unfortunately no suitable long term home could be found in time and Ben decided to stick to the original plan.
Kids and Ben headed out to Stanthorpe with Poppy in a horse trailer ready to start her new life as a mummy pig. Ben said the farm was nice, the bloke was lovely and he had little kids who were excited to be getting a pig.
But it was a farm. The type of farm where they grow their food and eat their food. You know – a kill a chook for dinner type place. The bloke is a butcher and he humanely kills the animals that he eats.
Poppy is not going to be tomorrow night’s dinner. She will be used to get him going again now that the drought has ended. Being able to help a farmer gives me comfort. Too often us city folk just like to think food appears on our plate and have little thought for the how it got there (or is it just me???).
Today has been heartbreaking for my kids and heartbreaking for me to watch them so deeply affected. I’d like to end this post by a quote from one of my FAVOURITE people in the world – Dr Temple Grandin.
“I think using animals for food is an ethical thing to do, but we’ve got to do it right. We’ve got to give those animals a decent life and we’ve got to give them a painless death. We owe the animal respect.”
Who knows what will become of Poppy. I hope she is happy and has a whole heap of pigglets to keep her busy for a while. She certainly had the best 2.5years with us. Not many pigs are raised with such love and devotion.
Before you start with judgy comments I think you should put down your pork sandwich and listen – I went to great lenghts to try to find her a place where she could be happy and if she was killed, killed humanely.
We will miss our Poppy Pig as much as we miss our Moo Moo. Both were members of our family who despite our best efforts, were not safe to keep long term.
* If you would like to know what a “Fogan” is a detailed description can be found here: https://frankieandthetramp.com/2017/07/11/falls-ing-in-love-with-cape-york/