Everything you wanted to know about having a pig for a pet, Q&A with Jerilynn Stephens (Key Hairstylist on The Voice & Shark Tank)

Jerilynn Stephens is the Key Hairstylist on The Voice & Shark Tank, but today we aren’t here to talk about hair – we are talking pigs. Before you get alarmed, this is indeed a plant-based site…we are talking pigs as pets. 🙂

1. What inspired you to choose a pig for a family pet?

My husband and son are allergic to dogs and cats. I couldn’t imagine having a reptile as our family pet. No offense to anyone that does, it’s just not for me. Through research I thought Pot Belly Pigs were an option. They have hair (not fur) and no dander. My husband thought my idea was crazy. So a year later I proposed the idea again. He was let’s say… Unresponsive. Then here’s the key to marriage! Plant the seed and let it become HIS idea! My husband works in TV/Film and one day he was on set and there were 3 baby piggies. He chatted with the animal trainer and discovered that people are rarely allergic to pigs. Long story short. We ended up with Lucy, our princess, from this animal trainer. A little over a year later we rescued Ricky. Once again, I planted the seed. I said if we ever get another one it would have to be a rescue and we would need to name him Ricky. A different breeder contacted us and asked if we knew anyone that would rescue this pig. He was in Torrance Animal Control. Torrance is not allowed to have pigs. When I brought him home I told my husband we would foster him. Wink, wink….

2. How do you go about finding a pig for a pet, and what should we be looking for?

If you are considering a pig for a pet. Please do your research. I love www.pigs4ever.com. Call your zoning commissioner and animal control to make sure you can even have them for pets. I was told I could have indoor pigs. I guess that wording prevents people from having Hogs. I also called vets in my area to see who is able to treat pigs. Not everyone does. They squeal very loud when you pick them up if they don’t trust you. It’s their most vulnerable state. I had a couple vets say it was too upsetting to the other animals.
I want everyone to know Tea Cup Pig, Micro Mini, Mini Pig are all going to get bigger! It’s all what the breeder decides to call them. Pigs are not fully grown till 3 yrs old. Lucy’s mom was 40lbs and her dad was 55lbs. So, I knew she would be around there and possibly take on her grand dad’s genes which could be over 100lbs. Anything is possible. So my husband put in a doggie door for for 120lb dog! He didn’t want to have to do it twice if she got big! Ricky is about 55lbs. He was fed dog food and whatever scraps. He has trimmed down a bit.
Also, they are smart!!! Each pig has their own personality. Ricky loves paper!! We now keep bathroom doors closed. He like toilet paper! He will find paper anywhere! “My pig ate my homework.” Actually happened when my son was in kindergarten. Now we know! Keep the backpack away from Ricky’s reach.

3. What kind of grooming/maintenance is involved? Do they shed?

Grooming involved is filing their hooves. We have cement outside that helps with that too. Your vet can clip the hooves if you don’t feel confident. Just like dogs and cats. They can bleed if too short. Pigs shed their entire coat once a year. They look so cute bald! Then they get a fresh new coat of hair.

4. What do they eat?

We feed our pigs Mazuri Pig Pellets. We get ours from a feed store. I called around to find a place that carried pig pellets before I actually owned a pig. They love fruits and vegetables! They are vegetarian. Mine anyway. You want them to be healthy. An overweight pig is not healthy. Food is on a schedule in our house. They eat at about 7am and 6pm. Trust me they know what time it is. Training them is a must with food. Grapes, raisins etc…

5. Do they require a large yard, or can you keep one in an apartment?

I have a large yard. They need to “root.” That’s when they dig with their snout. Oh, they root all over you when they are babies. It’s a nice massage. I’m not sure if an apartment is suitable or fair to a pig. Unless you are dedicated to making sure they get enough exercise. We did train Lucy to use a litter box with cedar pellets. They always go outside now. Ricky was always trained to go outside.

6. Are they difficult to house train?

Pigs are super easy to train with food as a reward. My pigs sit and spin around. Lucy with stand on a stool too. I went on YouTube to get ideas on how to teach them.

7. How are they with kids? Do they bite?

Lucy and Ricky are super affectionate with our family. Ricky loves a belly rub from anyone! We call him flopper. Touch him and he flops over. Lucy was great with everyone till she turned 18 months. Pigs have a hierarchy. She wants to be top pig with everyone who visits. She will get a little feisty and go after the ankles at times. Not bite, but nibble. I don’t risk it, so she’s put outside when little ones visit. Lucy did let Ricky know right away she was top pig. Generally, pigs like to be the only pig.

8. What is their lifespan typically?

Their life span is 12-18 yrs. It’s a big commitment!

9. Do they need to be spayed/neutered, or require vaccines?

I had Lucy spayed and Ricky was neutered when he arrived. It’s best to have them fixed to help with their moods. Pigs do have special vaccinations and need check ups just like any animal. We have a vet come to the house now. It’s easier with 2 pigs now. Plus, I wanted the Vet to see the environment we had for them and get approval.

10. What do you love most about being a pig owner?

Our family loves EVERYTHING about being pig owners!! We love them so much. Lucy sleeps in either our son’s bed, or ours. A typical morning ends up being my husband, Lucy, me and our son. All in that order in bed. Ricky likes to be in the pillows on the floor or in the bean bag chair in our room. They are our babies!

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