Why I Sprang For The Snout: Our Life With A Mini Pig


My kids can talk me into just about anything. For those in doubt, let me introduce you to our pet pig. Her name is Gerta, and she lives free-range in the house like a dog. Except she’s a mini pig.

Are you wondering why I sprang for the snout? Simple. Childhood is short. Get a pig. 

Whoa Nellie, I’m not advocating that everyone run out and buy pigs. They are a tremendous commitment. See how I italicized tremendous? That emphasizes how much I really mean it. Their lifespan is around 14 years. That’s a lot of oinking. Not to mention the big bummer called “zoning” that you need to look into.

However, I do believe that a pet, whether it’s a hamster, golden retriever, or mini pig builds empathy in children. I also see my children growing confident, kind, and responsible by caring for pets. 

It started with “Edna,” who was a fabulously gigantic farm big that belonged to my aunt and uncle. My children were in awe of her. Since my mother operates a horse barn, they are no strangers to agriculture. Edna represented something wondrous, though. She was pretty much the gateway drug to pig ownership.

“Edna” the pig.

I began researching mini pigs, and realized that they don’t stay “mini” indefinitely.

While they don’t grow as large as Edna, they can sometimes exceed 100 pounds. There are pig breeders who go to great lengths to assure would-be pig owners that their stock will stay tiny. For instance, “Esther” was sold as a mini pig but grew to the size of a polar bear. Her owners had to move to better accommodate her. She’s an Internet sensation, and quite hysterical.

Gerta as a mini piglet.

Gerta started off pretty small. She’s a Juliana pig, a breed of mini pig from Italy. While she won’t grow to the size of Edna, she will mature to the size of a well-fed dog. Gerta learned to walk on a harness and happily rides in the car. She goes just about anywhere someone might bring a dog.

There are a few aspects of pig ownership that came as a surprise, though.

? Pigs love mischief–Gerta loves to swipe toothpaste tubes, eat shoelaces, and chew on anything left at her level. Imagine my embarrassment when I had to legitimately explain to my daughter that our pig did indeed eat her homework.

Gerta with stolen toothpaste in her mouth.
Gerta eats the kids’ homework.

? Pigs Root–They do this pretty much constantly. It’s a natural behavior in which they repeatedly rub their snout on the ground seeking roots, or other edibles. Even a mini pig can do quite a number on a vinyl floor. Subsequently, I may have learned that the hard way. She has a rooting rug now, that we sprinkle with peanuts or Cheerios to let her root indoors.

Gerta’s rooting rug.

?They make a mess–If you want a pet that you can leave alone in the house and not make a mess, I don’t recommend adopting a mini pig. Gerta uses a “pig box” with pine shavings. Therefore the boxes require daily cleaning, not unlike a cat. Gerta gets a real kick out of dumping hers completely over. 

Mini pigs can make a major mess.

?Lots of Supervision–Similar to any pet, kids need lots of supervision with pigs. Gerta was socialized with kids from a young age. She enjoys getting attention by wearing tutus and having her hooves painted. But a mini pig could easily become sour if children were too rough or demanding. You can follow Gerta on Instagram at this_little_piggy_nh

Gerta dressed in a tutu.
It’s all fun and games, until the pig’s wearing nail polish.

Mini pigs are surprisingly affectionate pets. While we cherish Gerta, they aren’t the right pet for everyone. 

Sleepy time smiles.