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Pot Bellied Pigs/Nursing behavior

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Question
We have two female Guinnea Hogs. Thanks for your previous answer about talking to them, they understand! They are getting close to 3 months old. One piglet was bottle fed because her mom died and two litters were combined, she did not latch on or something.. Anyway she's always been very fixated on nursing, wants to nurse in your hand etc. we decided that wasn't a good behavior and told her to stop so she doesn't try to nurse on us anymore but has now fixated on a water dish and will spend a lot of time pushing on it with her nose even working up frothy saliva. It seems obsessive and I'm concerned about her. What do you think? Thank you

Answer
Many piglets who were weaned early are obsessive about nursing behavior. This nudging nursing behavior encourages the mother's body to make milk. When babies are bottle fed, they can't do this kind of nudging as they eat. But, that behavior is hard wired into their brains, so they nudge on other things or people. Just before babies are weaned they are drinking a lot of milk, so their nursing behavior can be really intense.

Naturally weaned babies rarely indulge in this kind of nursing behavior after they are three or maybe four months old. But, bottle fed babies may continue until they are six months old or so. I suspect this happens because when a baby is bottle fed, the nudging/nursing behavior becomes disconnected from the act of nursing. When a baby is fed by Momma pig and weaned naturally, the baby associates that behavior with the act of nursing on Momma. No more nursing means no more need for that behavior, instead, it becomes normal pig rooting behavior. But, without that association, the behavior lingers longer because it provides some measure of comfort.

The short answer to your question is, don't worry. This is common in bottle fed babies and should stop by the time piggy is about 6 months old.  

Pot Bellied Pigs

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Helen Morrison

Expertise

Pot-bellied or other miniature pet pig care, including diet, housing, training, health care. Can provide information about zoning, adoption, supplies, and organizations. Questions about any kind of pet swine are welcome!

Experience

Owning, raising, and caring for small pet swine, including "Vietnamese" pot-bellied pigs since 1992.

Organizations
Pigs of Great Fortune; FAREC; PigCollaborative

Education/Credentials
BBA from KSU

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