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Since Paris Hilton bought a teacup piglet in 2010, these animals have been trending up. Teacup piglets -- also called minipigs, micropigs and micro-mini-pigs -- are small and adorable when young. However cute they are, they do not stay small when mature. This poses problems.
Technically speaking, no breed of "teacup pigs" exists. Teacup is merely a nickname that refers to the tiny size of the piglet. A breeder offering teacup pigs for sale most likely has miniature pigs. There are more than 50 types of miniature pigs, including the Juliana, Sinclair, Yucatan and Vietnamese potbellied. Even small species of miniature pig grow to over 66 pounds in their first year of life and take four to five years to reach adult size.
Teeny-tiny teacup piglets, like other pets called teacups, are ostensibly small enough when young to fit into teacups, hence their name. Their small size and trendiness lead some breeders to misrepresent the true adult weight of the animals. The piglets are social creatures, naturally smart and funny. While a teacup piglet may make a good pet for some people, it should never be an impulse purchase. In part, this is due to its true adult size.
When fully grown, even little pigs weigh 40 to 50 pounds at the low end to 100 pounds or more at the high end. Unhappy buyers have surrendered pigs to animal rescues at this point, because many were not prepared to care for such as large house pet.
Some pig retailers and breeders claim miniature piglets will mature to adult size of no more than 12 pounds, but this is not a fact. Breeders have also tried, without success, to breed piglets that weigh less as adults. An adult pig who weighs less than 40 pounds is unhealthy and is probably not receiving enough food. Unscrupulous breeders may try to dupe buyers by breeding baby pigs then showing prospective buyers the piglets and the so-called parents, claiming the piglets will grow to the size of the not-fully-grown parents.
If you're thinking of getting a teacup piglet for yourself, beware. Different miniature pig species grow to different adult sizes, but none fit the teacup description as adults, unlike some other domestic pets. If you're alright with purchasing an animal that grows this large, do one last bit of homework: Check to see whether your community has zoning restrictions that prevent keeping pigs as pets. Many areas do, which means well-intended pig parents sometimes must surrender their family animals.
- "Potbellied Pigs: Cool Pets!"; Alvin Silverstein et al.
- USA Today Paw Print Post: This Little Piggie May Not Always Be 'Teacup' Size
- Vet Street: Why I Cringe When People Buy Teacup Pigs
- "Sourcebook of Models for Biomedical Research"; P. Michael Conn
- Best Friends Animal Society: Piggy Paradise
- Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images