Teacup pigs are really baby potbellied pigs.
Potbellied pigs (Sus scrofa domesticus) are wild boar cousins from Vietnam who are in fact miniature pigs when standing next to huge farm pigs (who can weigh more than 1,000 pounds) or even wild hogs (who can weigh 450 to 700 pounds). However, potbellied pigs can continue to grow for three to four years and in most cases reach well over 100 pounds. Once they grow up they don’t fit in the cup! If overfed, they will become morbidly obese which causes arthritis in their joints.
When the novelty wears off and the pig is fully grown, it is not uncommon for them to be turned out as strays, taken to shelters and euthanized, sent to auction, or stuck all alone in a tiny enclosure in the corner of someone’s yard.
Keeping pigs that small is simply unhealthy.
A host of health issues resulting from reduced genetic diversity, such as squished snouts, which cause breathing problems later in life, are the result of inbreeding. Many pigs come in malnourished and emaciated. Underfed pigs also suffer from weak immune systems, sensitive skin and hoof problems.
They can breed when they are just 3 months old.
To convince customers of their pig's minuscule size, breeders may invite them to look at the piggy parents. To keep the animal’s size down, many breeders have been inbreeding and underfeeding their pigs, telling buyers that piglets are actually adults. Pigs are able to breed from as young as 6 weeks old, meaning the parents of these ‘mini’ pigs could actually be piglets themselves, so their size might not be an accurate measure of how large their offspring will be in adulthood.
It makes them unhappy.
Potbellied pigs need other piggy friends and lots of space to roam otherwise they can become depressed or angry. Pigs love to root, dig, roll in mud and splash in water. Their intelligence makes them exceptionally curious animals who will probably get into some trouble when they're bored. Pigs are not meant to be kept inside people's homes. They have a hard time walking on the flooring and all the slipping and sliding contributes to joint problems. On top of it, their natural tendency is to root, so if they are stuck in a house all day they will find something to root and chances are it will end up in drywall and flooring being destroyed.
Keeping pigs is more expensive than you may think.
Because customers expect these piglets to stay tiny, they can't possibly imagine the costs associated with keeping a fully grown potbellied pig. There is the initial price of the pig, the proper food (no dog/cat kibble, pizza crusts or Cheetos!), the space needed, the vet bills (finding a good vet can be almost impossible), sterilization costs and the expenses for a qualified pig-sitter if the humans go out of town.
If male pigs get tusks they cannot be removed as they are part of the jaw and never stop growing so additional costs include having these trimmed properly by a veterinarian with a wire otherwise they get razor sharp and can cut anything they come up against wide open. If pigs will not let you do it easily most have to be sedated and costs can be around $300.
They also may be illegal.
No matter what teacup pig purchasers may think or how small their pig may be, in the eyes of the law, these little pigs are livestock. Many local governments outside of farm country forbid the keeping of livestock, so it might be illegal to keep these pigs as pets in the city, even if you do have the money and the ability to care for them.
Unfortunately, the prevalence of misinformation about the care of these complex creatures means that most pigs live only about five years, even though the average life expectancy for a potbellied pig is 12 to 18 years.
Common reasons people give up their ‘mini’ pigs:
The pig is not spayed or neutered, which can make them extremely unsociable, dominant and smelly.
They cannot handle their large size and/or behavior.
Zoning rules do not allow pigs to be kept as house pets.
It is estimated that only 3% of potbelly pigs remain in their homes for more than a year! If you are considering adding a potbellied pig to your family, thorough research and education is a must! They need proper nutrition, an appropriate living environment and access to quality veterinary care, and as always, adoption from a rescue or sanctuary is the best option.
Don't be pignorant! Whatever you want to call them - teacup, mini, or micro, tiny little pigs do not exist. The stark reality is thousands of these poor animals are abandoned every year, ending up at already overburdened sanctuaries and rescue shelters when they outgrow their purported size. Since 1998, the number of "mini-pigs” in the United States and Canada has risen from 200,000 to perhaps as many as a million.