PEI

A pig for a house pet? What a P.E.I. family has learned

Kim Gallant and her daughter Megan have a new addition to the family, a 10-week-old miniature pot-bellied pig.

Charlotte is cute and cuddly — and eats like a pig

Charlotte the miniature pot-bellied pig is smarter than a dog, says Kim Gallant. (Megan Gallant)

She loves to have her belly rubbed, she'll snuggle up to you in bed, and she'll come when she's called.

Charlotte is much like any other house pet, says Kim Gallant — except, of course, she's a pig.

A 10-week-old miniature pot-bellied pig, to be exact. Gallant and her daughter Megan recently welcomed the new addition to their home in Rustico, P.E.I.

Here is what they've discovered so far about having a pig for pet.

They are cute and cuddly

Charlotte likes to cuddle and will often fall asleep on Megan's lap. (Kim Gallant)

"You take her anywhere and she'll sleep on your lap," Gallant says.

She doesn't lick like a dog, though.

"She smells us — sticks her nose to our nose and stuff like that."

She also likes having vitamin E oil rubbed on her. When Gallant rubs it on Charlotte's belly, the piglet sticks her legs in the air, she said.

They train easily

Gallant says Charlotte has only peed on their floor once since they got her two weeks ago.

"They're smarter than dogs," she said. "We didn't litter train it, it just knows where the doors are and it goes to the door.

"It's like they instinctively come house trained. It's neat."

They get along with dogs

Maybe a bit too well. Gallant says the pig was in the house barely five minutes when Mojo, a Lhasa Apso, tried to mate with her.

"It was quite funny when we got home and that was the first thing, the dogs went around sniffing her and then then next thing you know she's running around and the dog's on top of her."

Gallant hopes after Mojo gets neutered, Charlotte doesn't have to sleep with one eye open.

They eat like pigs

They'll eat anything, anytime, anywhere.

"I have to make sure the dogs' dishes aren't down when she's in because she will just pig out, She will eat and eat and eat.

Gallant feeds her pig Mazuri purchased at the Agro Co-op.

The breed of pig will grow to about 40 pounds, but eating dog food will make them fatter than they should be, Gallant said.

They're not dirty

You may have heard the expression "happy as a pig in ..." But Gallant says they are just as joyful when they're clean.

"They're a clean animal, despite what they say about, you know, they like to roll in dirt. But they don't roll in dirt any more than the dogs or the cat."

Pigs can get sunburned

Pigs don't have much hair to protect their fair skin, so Gallant puts suntan lotion on Charlotte if she's out in the sun for a long period.

"Just like you would put on a baby, SPF 50 or 60."

It's difficult to put a leash on them

Charlotte loves to play in the back yard, but she sometimes slips out of her harness. (Megan Gallant)

Gallant is still trying to figure out how to take Charlotte for a walk. She tried a harness, but Charlotte was able to slip right out of it. Charlotte likes to play around in the back yard.

Gallant says she's still learning as she goes, but the best advice she can give someone who is considering a pig as pet: make sure you know what you're getting. She says people think they are getting a mini pot-bellied pig, but instead end up with a regular pot bellied pig, which can grow to about 150 pounds, and might be more work than you anticipate.

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About the Author

Shane Ross is a former newspaper and TV journalist in Halifax, Ottawa and Charlottetown. He joined CBC P.E.I.'s web team in 2016.

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