A teacup pig is a type of pig which was developed and utilized for the purposes of scientific research. These types of small pigs are also popular choices as pets. These miniature pigs were first used for medical research in European countries, before being introduced to America during the 1980s. Since then, these types of animals have been used in studies by medical researchers around the world. One famous example of a celebrity who keeps this type of pig as a pet is actor George Clooney.
History of Teacup Pig Animals
During the 1960s, pigs that grew to 150–200 pounds were housed in zoos in Western countries, and then used for medical research within the disciplines of toxicology, pharmacology and aging. In addition, they were used as sources of organs for transplants. Since smaller pigs were simpler to work with than bigger pigs (which may grow to weights of 1000 pounds), small pigs were prized. At this stage, pot-bellied pigs also became a mainstay in a range of zoological parks, where their diminutive stature and distinctive pot bellies garnered plenty of positive attention from visitors. These animals began to be acquired as pets, primarily by the well-to-do.
The popularity of pot-bellied pigs rose in the 1980s, with pet pigs of this type appearing in plenty of places, from ritzy New York condominiums to independently-owned hobby farms. However, the trend started dying out, primarily due to city bylaws that forbade the raising of farm animals within city boundaries. In addition, because these pot-bellied animals still grew to weights as high as 160 pounds, owners began to comprehend that these pigs were difficult to take care of in certain housing setups.
The 1990s and 2000s triggered a renewed interest in marketing pet pigs that were smaller than ever before (and smaller than pot-bellied pigs). At this stage, miniature pigs, known as teacup pigs, began to be bred for financial gain. These animals were intended to be sold as pets for house and apartment owners. While an assortment of animal rights groups and pig breeders find the existence of true "teacup pigs" to be controversial, there are many teacup breeders offering piglets (miniature pigs) in North America and in Great Britain.
Governing Bodies for Teacup Pig Owners
To track the pedigrees of teacup pigs, the Pot-bellied Pig Registry Service, Incorporated (PPRSI) was created. However, this registry service shut down during the late 1990s. A new registry, the Miniature Pot-bellied Pig Registry Service, Incorporated (MPPRSI) was established in 1993, in order to offer a registry for teacup pigs that were formerly pedigreed within the PPRSI. In order to qualify for the registry, pigs could not be more than 15 inches (38 cm) tall and they must weigh 55 pounds (25 kg) or less.
Teacup Pigs as Home Pets
These miniature pigs may also be referred to as micro pigs, pocket pigs, or teacup pigs. They are smart animals and may be house-trained. Teacup pigs don’t shed and they are quite clean. However, their living area may get quite messy.
The consensus is that these teacup pigs are agreeable pets for a variety of pet owners. However, owning and caring for a “micro” pig may be more complex than taking care of a cat or dog. For example, it’s hard for owners to know what type of breeding their pigs have, and this may lead to health problems for these tiny pigs.
Origins of the First Teacup Pig
English pig breeder Chris Murray devoted 9 years to breeding and cross-breeding pigs at his Devonshire farm. His goal was to breed a smaller pig that could be kept as a pet. In order to create the first breed of Teacup Pig, he used breeds, such as the Vietnamese Potbelly, Tamsworths, Kune and Gloucester Old Spots. He would breed the offspring of these pigs to each other. It took 24 generations for him to succeed at his task.
The tiny pigs that were created via this long-term breeding experiment were originally known as Pennywells. However, they quickly became more commonly known as Teacup Pigs. While the existence of these animals remains the subject of controversy, those who do own Teacup Pigs are generally very devoted to these intelligent animals. Therefore, continued breeding of this species is likely to continue.