Miniature pig

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Miniature pig
Bild-Minischweine.jpg
Full-grown miniature pigs
Traits
Pig
Sus scrofa domesticus

A miniature pig (also mini pig, or micro pig, or teacup pig) is a breed of pig developed and used for medical research or as a pet. Miniature pigs weigh between 60 pounds (27 kg) and 300 pounds (140 kg) when fully grown. They were first used for medical research in Europe before being introduced to the United States in the 1980s. Since then, the animals have been used in studies by scientists around the world, and have also risen in popularity as companion animals.

History[edit]

In the 1960s, Chinese pigs that grew to be 150–200 pounds (68–91 kg) were sent to zoos in Western nations[1] and were used for medical research in the fields of toxicology, pharmacology, pulmonology, cardiology, aging, and as a source of organs for organ transplantation.[2] These comparatively smaller pigs were easier to work with than the larger farm pigs, which typically reach weights of 300-500 pounds.[3] Pot-bellied pigs also became a fixture in many zoological parks where their small stature, sway backs, and potbellies attracted the attention of visitors.[citation needed] The purchase of a few potbellied pigs by wealthy pet owners helped start a new trend in pet pigs.[citation needed]

The popularity of miniature pigs grew in the 1980s, with pet potbellied pigs appearing everywhere from New York apartment complexes to small hobby farms. However, the trend was short-lived, mostly due to city ordinances forbidding raising farm animals within the city limits. Furthermore, many owners came to realize that even a 165-pound pig was difficult to handle in most housing situations.

The 1990s and 2000s saw a rising trend of marketing pet pigs that were supposed to be much smaller than even the potbellied pigs, and therefore suitable pets for house and apartment owners. While multiple animal protection groups and pig breeders question or deny the existence of true "miniature pigs",[4] there are currently breeders selling piglets claimed to be miniature pigs in North America and in the United Kingdom.[citation needed]

In the mid-1980s, Keith Connell of the Bowmanville Zoo in Ontario imported breeding potbellied pigs to Canada, which became the foundation for the potbellied pig in North America.[5] Because of customs laws, only their offspring could be sold in the United States. US zoos were the main target for the piglets, but private owners soon began purchasing them as pets. Up to five additional imports were made in the following 10 years. To track the pedigrees, the Potbellied Pig Registry Service, Inc (PPRSI) was created to preserve these bloodlines and establish a breed registry in the United States. This registry was dissolved in the late 1990s.[5]

The Miniature Potbellied Pig Registry Service, Inc (MPPRSI) was established in 1993 to provide a registry for those pigs who were pedigreed in the PPRSI and met the breed standard, when fully grown not being more than 15 inches (38 cm) tall and weighing under 55 pounds (25 kg).[6] All of the foundation pigs were dual registered in PPRSI and MPPRSI.[5]

In May 2015, the China Academy of Agricultural Science announced that its research team had successfully produced F-25 (the 25th generation) of inbred Chinese Wuzhishan Mini Pig (WZSP), with an inbreeding coefficient of 0.99519.

Medical research[edit]

Miniature pigs have been used for medical research, including toxicology, pharmacology, experimental surgery, pulmonology, cardiology, xenotransplantation, and aging.

As pets[edit]

Young mini-pig on the streets of Condesa neighborhood (Cuauhtémoc borough, Mexico City) during an earthquake in May 2014

Miniature pigs, also known as micro pigs, pocket pigs, and or teacup pigs, have seen an increase in popularity as pets, especially following Paris Hilton's attempt to purchase one in 2009 (She ended up with a much larger breed).[7] They are very intelligent animals (4th smartest among mammals) and can be easily house-trained.[8] They can also be taught how to go through a doggy door or ring a bell at a door to notify their owners if they need to go outside. They are hypoallergenic and often do well with people that have usual animal allergies as they have hair and not fur. They do, however, "blow their coat" meaning that they shed most of the longer hair once a year, usually in Spring or early summer to prepare for the warmer months ahead. Because pigs do not sweat (the often used term "I'm sweating like a pig" is a misnomer since pigs only sweat a small amount from their snouts), they shed to help keep cool in the warmer summer months. This can often be a hassle as they can shed a large amount of long, stiff hair that can pierce through the skin if stepped on or embedded in clothing. It is common for the pig to gain bald spots or be mostly bald through summer and fall, and most of the hair will grow back. Though the main assumption about pigs is that they are very dirty animals, in fact, they will usually only get muddy or dirty when provided with a much needed outside area to gain vitamin D from sun/rooting soil and grass for a diet, and use the mud as a sunscreen or cooling agent to keep their body temperature regulated. Wallowing, as it is referred to, is when a pig will root up a certain area of dirt and roll around in the mud to get a nice layer of mud on their skin to protect against the sun and as a bug repellent.

'Teacup-sized' immature miniature piglet

Breeders claim that micro pigs can potentially make great pets, but that there are considerably more risks involved when buying a micro pig over other common pets, such as cats or dogs. The biggest concern is that, since there is no established breed of "teacup pig", there is no guarantee that the pig sold as such will actually stay small.[9] It may be possible to reduce the risk of ending up with a large pig by looking at the pig's parents and grandparents if possible.[10] However, since pigs can breed years before they fully mature, unscrupulous or ignorant breeders may show off parent pigs which are not fully grown themselves, so have not reached their full adult size.[11] Some breeders may falsely claim that a mini-pig is guaranteed to stay under a certain weight, and sometimes will recommend a diet regimen that starves the animal and unnaturally stunts its growth.[12]

Some towns and cities have ordinances disallowing farm animals within city limits; a pig is usually considered a farm animal regardless of their size. As well, many small animal vets will not treat pigs. Since these animals have a life span of 15 to 20 years, they require long term commitment. Due to their ability to bond, combined with their need for attention, people who have limited time for a pet may find a pig far more than they can handle. Additionally, if pet pigs are not properly trained when they are young, they can strive for dominance and become aggressive.[13]

There are multiple animal rescue organizations set up to find new homes for pet pigs which have grown too large or otherwise unmanageable for their owners

Other notable references[edit]

A Yucatan miniature pig is the unofficial mascot of the Animal Rescue League of Boston.[14]

The world's smallest wild pig species is believed to be the 28 inches (71 cm) long wild pygmy hog which lives in Assam, India.[15] It is an endangered wild species, not appropriate for domestication.

References[edit]

  1. ^ John Pukite (1999). A field guide to pigs. ISBN 1-56044-877-6. 
  2. ^ Sachs, DH; Galli, C (2009). "Genetic Manipulation in Pigs". Current Opinion in Organ Transplantation. 14 (2): 148–153. doi:10.1097/mot.0b013e3283292549. PMC 2687522free to read. PMID 19469029. 
  3. ^ "Ag Facts: Swine". Oklahoma4h.okstate.edu. 1985-03-05. Retrieved 2016-04-04. 
  4. ^ [1] - Miniature Potbellied Pig Registry Service, ref>The Truth about "Tea Cup" Pigs
  5. ^ a b c "History". Miniature Potbellied Pig Registry Service, Inc. Retrieved 4 Feb 2013. 
  6. ^ About Miniature Potbellied Pigs - Miniature Potbellied Pig Registry Service, Inc.
  7. ^ History of pigs in research Andrew David Thaler, on October 14th, 2012
  8. ^ Mini Pig Care guide
  9. ^ You must have been told a porky: 'Micro' pig grows to 25 stone and takes over its owners' home By Daily Mail Reporter PUBLISHED: 12:51 EST, 27 July 2012 | UPDATED: 15:00 EST, 27 July 2012
  10. ^ Minimizing risk when buying a micro pig About Micro Pigs and their size - UK
  11. ^ Teacup Pigs All the Rage, But Animal Welfare Group Urges People to do Homework Before Taking One Home October 28, 2009
  12. ^ "Instead of providing breed-appropriate feed and portions, her breeder recommended tiny, toy breed puppy-appropriate food and water bowls." [2]
  13. ^ Pot Bellied Pigs as Pets
  14. ^ Meet Rosie a Yucatan miniature pig May 10, 2009 NECN.com
  15. ^ Mini pigs are big success on farm 15 October 2007 BBC News