Who are these little porkers?
They're micro pigs, and no, your eyes do not deceive you – they really are quite wee. Unlike pigs that are bred for bangers, micro pigs are kept as loving, adorable pets who are actively encouraged to stay small, typically reaching a height of about 16 inches. We can safely say that this is one little piggy that won't be going to market.
What do they do all day?
According to the good people at Little Pig Farm, a specialist breeder and supplier of micro pigs based in Cambridge, they like nothing more than to lounge around indoors (or outdoors when the weather is fine), and be cuddled. And they get on famously with cats and dogs. Remember the film Babe? It's just like having your own one of those.
Where on earth am I going to keep a pig?
Although ideally suited to life in the country, micro pigs do not need a huge amount of space, or much in the way of exercise, so a large suburban garden would be ample space and would certainly keep your neighbours guessing. They are perfectly happy with human company, but if you plan on getting two, then you will have to consider the fact that breeding pairs can produce up to a dozen piglets a litter. Up to three times a year.
How do I look after a micro pigletto?
They'll need feeding twice a day. Little Pig Farm recommends a good quality sow and weaner mix – but she stresses that if you overfeed the hungry little fellows and give them all your scraps, they will soon outgrow their "micro" status. A plentiful, clean water supply is essential to keeping happy hogs, as they like to drink and wash all day.
Washing? But I thought pigs loved rolling around in mud
Well, that's partly true. In Lyall Watson's fascinating book The Whole Hog, the naturalist explains that pigs in the wild are quite refined, and even section off special areas in their habitats for use as latrines, dormitories and canteens. He goes on to explain that certain religions around the world declared pigs "unclean" and made them taboo out of economic necessity as much as anything. Raising pigs took up valuable resources in parts of the world where they were scarce, and so pork was banned in a decree issued in the Book of Leviticus. So now you know.
How much do they cost?
The price might make you squeal – anything from £300 up to £700. And that's just to get your hands on one of the little wrigglers, before you've even factored in feed costs, fencing, etc.
Unfortunately, not just anyone can p-p-p-pick up a piglet to keep as a pet. Little Pig Farm has quite strict and necessary guidelines on ownership, which involve obtaining a licence. Then you have to consider vaccination and guarding against swine flu, all of which the farm can help you with. For more information, contact Jane Croft at littlepigfarm.co.uk, or call 01354 638 005.