Monday, March 29, 2010

Micro Pigs

There's a new pet craze in Britain, and it sure isn't parakeets. The newest animal to be coveted by would-be pet owners is a very different sort, indeed -- it's the micro pig, a bred-down version of the oinkers you see on exhibit at your local county fair. (Their genetic makeup is actually a mixture of several breeds: the miniature potbellied pig, Tamworth, Kune Kune and Gloucester Old Spot.)

Micro pigs start out tiny -- a fraction of a pound -- but reach the size of a medium-sized dog in adulthood, measuring 12-16 inches tall and weighing 40-65 pounds. And they share a few other traits with dogs as well. "They make fantastic pets," breeder Jane Croft said on the "Today Show." "They’re really clean. They’re highly intelligent and just love to be loved. They give so much back to you." (Intelligent is right -- a Penn State study showed that full-sized pigs could maneuver joysticks to control a cursor on a video monitor, as long as they were being rewarded with candy.)

One notable leg up the tiny pigs have on most dogs: Since pigs have hair rather than fur, they're less troublesome to allergy sufferers than many breeds of dog. Another leg up: They can be litter-box trained. Although they don't necessarily need to be taken outside to take care of their business, Croft requires potential owners to have a backyard or garden where the little guys can frolic....

-- Lindsay Barnett

The L.A Times

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