Pot Bellied Pigs/2 month old mini pig potty problems, squealing and nudging problems
QUESTION: My husband and I bought a mini pig male when he was 4 weeks old. He's now 8 weeks old and a huge pain. I might add I am also 6 1/2 months pregnant. Anyways, our pig, Hippo, was potty trained when we got him but now he's peeing and pooping on the carpet in our bedroom. He has free roam around the house but when he potties outside of his litter box we put him in his "room". In our spare bathroom he has his litter box, stuffed animals, water bowl and doggy bed. We also have a cat that is a male and likes to use the pigs litterbox at times, could that be the issue?
The next problem we're having is the extreme squealing. He squeals bloody murder and throws huge fits numerous times during the day. He sleeps in his room at night and squeals at all hours because he wants out and in bed with us. We've never let him sleep at night with us in the bed. I work til 1 am sometimes and if hippo hears me come in he'll squeal for an hour or two until he gets tired of it. We've tried giving him a little pig feed when he wakes up to help make him go back to sleep and that used to work but now it doesn't. I don't know what else to do. My husband loves this little guy and so do I but I'm also pregnant and irritated.
He also nudges constantly! He has plenty of toys to play with but he insists on nudging us. And it really hurts. I'm afraid he'll hurt the baby once she gets here. Please help us! I don't want to give up on him and get rid of him. Oh, he is not neutered yet. I heard you had to wait a little while before you could do that. Is that true?
ANSWER: An 8 week old piglet is old enough to be neutered. In fact, he is old enough to make a sow pregnant. Getting him neutered as soon as possible will help get him back on the right track before he learns any more bad habits.
The constant nudging is a nursing action. Momma pigs nurse their babies for 8 to 12 weeks. This nudging helps the mother produce milk. When piglets are weaned at the right age, the behavior stops along with nursing. But when piglets are weaned too young, the behavior does not stop. It will continue anyway until the piglet is 3 or 4 months old. At that point it will drop off, and usually ends when the piglets are about 6 months old.
Spoiled pigs squeal, but isolated pigs will, too. If he is left alone all day and all night, that may play a big role in his squealing. Piglets in nature are never alone or separated from their families. When that happens, the piglet is usually in grave danger and that is what his instincts tell him. But if you spend time during the day with him, he can learn to be alone at night.
The trick is to simply ignore him at night from bedtime to breakfast. At first he will squeal even more. That's because in the past, squealing worked. So, he thinks he needs to squeal harder. It won't be easy, you might want ear plugs. But, after the first few nights he'll adjust quickly. Remember if anyone must get up at night, it's important to continue to ignore him. He must learn that from bedtime to breakfast he will stay in his space.
Little piglets have to pee often, and they pee only a tiny bit. If your piglet has been "holding it" longer than an hour or so, he's faking. What usually happens is that tiny piglets leave tiny pee spots that no one notices. The owners think their piglet has been potty trained and can hold pee for several hours. But, the piglet has never really been trained at all. As the piglet grows, the accidents grow. Eventually, they get noticed. The people think the piglet has forgotten potty training, when, in fact, the piglet was never really trained at all.
Piglets often don't know they have to go until they are practically going. They don't have time to run to a litter box in another room. So they will drop a quick pee in any nearby spot. Part of the trick to potty training is to take the piglet to the litter box before the piglet even realizes he has to go.
The only solution is to start potty training at square one. When he is getting neutered, clean everything with any quality cleaner made for pet urine odors. Set him up in his own space with a bed, water dish and litter box. It should not be large, it should be fairly small like a laundry room, closet, or pet pen in the corner of a bedroom. This is where he must stay when he is not right by your side.
If he is not harness trained, now is a good time to start. Keeping him on a harness when he is with you will help the two of you communicate. It also makes it easier to take him to the litter box every hour.
Make him go potty in the litter box first thing in the morning before letting him out for breakfast. Put him in the box and tell him to go potty. Don't let him out of the box or let him have breakfast until he potties. When he does go, praise him and give him a treat. A short while after breakfast, take him back to the box and repeat this.
Take him to the box every hour or so. Take him as soon as he wakes up from a nap or after eating a snack. The goal is to keep him so empty that he can not make a mistake. At age 6 months, he should be able to hold it for about 2 hours, but will still need to pee when he wakes up. He will be about a year old before he can hold it for 4 or more hours.
I highly recommend the book Pot Bellied Pig Behavior and Training by Priscilla Valentine. I also recommend the dvds There's a Pig in the House and Amazing Pig Tricks from tophogs.com Yahoo groups has several lists devoted to pet pigs, PigInfoAndChat is a good resource.
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QUESTION: Thank you so much for responding so quickly! Your advice is really helpful! I have one more question I forgot to ask previously: how much should I be feeding him? We give him 1/4 cup of pig feed for breakfast, grapes and tomatoes with applesauce for lunch, and 1/4 cup of feed for dinner. He was having a hard time pooping and I read that applesauce helps that. Now he just really loves it. We give him a little feed here and there as snacks also. Is that too much? My friend has his sister and our pig is like twice as big as her. Are we feeding him more than we should be? Thanks again for all your help!
The rule of thumb is 1/2 cup pet pig pellets per 15 lb of piglet, divided into two meals and supplemented with fresh veggies, fruits, grazing time and training treats.
The fresh veggies and grazing are important sources of fiber. Applesauce is an ok source of fiber, but read the labels because some brands are very high in sugars and fructoses. Choose a sugar free unsweetened brand if you can find it, or just give him a fresh apple, skin and all.
Active piglets may need more food, up to two cups per day. The important thing is how piggy looks, ribs and hip bones should be well padded, but the belly should not be dragging on the ground, either.
There's a set of drawings depicting pigs from starvation to obesity at www.farec.org I think it's under "Education"