Indianapolis—From the "pot belly" to the "tea cup," there's a new breed of pet that's getting attention for the cute factor. The "Micro Pig" is gaining in popularity but there's been a big problem bringing it from the farmhouse to your house.
It's nanotechnology that's brought us the tiny swine, pigs bred to the shrunken size of a teacup when they're newborn. As adults, they reach a little over a foot high and weigh around 60 lbs. Micro, or mini pigs as they're known, are the newest pet craze that has swept Europe and is gaining interest in America.
"They come from auctions, sometimes with pet stores online," said local vet, Dr. Beth Breitweiser from All Things Wild Animal Hospital.
On the classifieds micro pigs sell from $250 to more than $1,000. The increase in interest has led to problems that prompted the Indiana Board of Animal Health to send out a notice to educate potential owners about the issues surrounding the pets.
"They really need to check with their housing organization before they get one to make sure they can have one. There's lots of rules about livestock, and keeping farm animals in the house," said Dr. Breitweiser.
There's also a problem with their health, many are getting sick.
The issue really came to the forefront over the last two months. In that short time frame, this animal hospital treated as many as nine animals when health issues came up. The problem is their diet. The market hasn't yet produced a food for the baby mini pig. They're forced to eat adult mini pigchow.
"It's way too high in fiber, they're not growing normally. Their skin isn't developing normally and they're having quite a few disease problems associated with nutrition," said Dr. Breitweiser.
And since they can carry the same disease as their full-size relatives, they have to have to tagged, tattooed or chipped and can't leave the state without certification. All things to know before you go hogwild over the minipig. The Board of Animal Health says you can get more information about swine health requirements online.