As you may have noticed from the photo, we are talking about pigs. Humans rank first (yes!) followed by primates, dolphins and whales.

As you may have noticed from the photo, we are talking about pigs. Humans rank first (yes!) followed by primates, dolphins and whales. This ranking is not absolute and varies from source to source but pigs are definitely up there on everyone’s list. Pigs function by instinct, intuition and memory and learn quickly and do not forget what they have learned.


I recently met a very charming pet Vietnamese pot-bellied pig owned by Petra Johnson, the daughter of Stacey and Michael Johnson who run a small family farm in McLouth.


“Gloucester” is a year old and weighs around 200 lbs. When acquired from a breeder at 2 months age, he was identified as “tea cup” size and was predicted to reach an adult weight of 50 lbs. I am guessing that the only time he ever fit in a tea cup was when he was a day old perhaps. An interesting thing about pigs is that their bodies are extremely dense resulting in a weight far more than their size suggests. Gloucester is about the size of an overweight lab that might weigh 80-90 lbs.


When Gloucester”was a piglet, he was raised inside but eventually became too large to have in the house. He now has his own fenced-in area with a house and mud yard that he shares with a flock of chickens. Because pigs do not sweat, (belying the saying “sweat like a pig”), he has dug himself a mud pit to wallow in.


Gloucester loves his people and starts wagging his tail when they appear. His favorite treat is a large serving of goat milk. He has been taught to “sit” before receiving milk or other treats. Because of his pot-belly stature, it is hard to tell the difference between sitting and standing other than a slight lowering of his rump. Pigs have a great capacity to communicate and Gloucester uses a wide variety of sounds to indicate his feelings.
His “Ouff” sounds that are similar to a soft snort indicate contentment and friendliness.


Vietnamese pot bellied pigs have had a certain popularity as house pets. They can be litter trained and are occasionally known to sleep with their owners. When young, they are cute, very sociable, affectionate unique pets and exhibit an extraordinary depth of feelings. As they mature they still have these wonderful personality traits but their size becomes problematic. They cannot climb stairs and their characteristic rooting behavior can make a mess of your possessions.


If you are considering a pig as a pet, be aware that these animals become easily bored and can require more attention than a cat or dog. They need strong leadership because they have an intense will. Owners say that “if you give a pig an inch, she will most certainly take many miles.” Since they live 15-20 years, owning one requires a major commitment of time and effort. Heat reminder: Every day I hear of pets dying from being left in overheated cars elsewhere. A car overheats quickly in hot weather. Leave your pets home even if you are on a short errand.


Anne Divine is a long time member of LAWS and has volunteered at Animal Control for 18 years.  She can be reached at: