Teacup pigs are cute as fuck.

Image via Animals Do. Image 1.Image via Animals Do

But animal rights activists say that to keep them small is unethical. Breeders sell baby potbelly pigs for $2,500 a pop and promise the piglets will stop growing after a year and stay only 12 inches high as long as they're fed a very strict, limited diet. Potbelly pigs tend to be smaller than commercial pigs raised for meat, but they still typically weigh between 100 to 120 pounds as adults when fed a proper diet.

The limited diet recommended by breeders, however, is unhealthy for the pig. "I have never seen a full-grown, healthy, 35-pound pig live to maturity," said Susan Magidson, owner of one of the busiest pig rescues in the country. Pigs who stay miniature are underfed animals, say many veterinarians.

Many pigs end up growing despite breeder promises, and unable to house and feed a 150-pound animal, their owners give the pigs up for adoption. As a result, animal rescues are overflowing. Sue Parkinson of Lil' Orphan Hammies rescue, which has saved 1,000 pigs since it began 23 years ago, says she gets 20 calls a day from people hoping to give up their pigs.

Even if mini pigs make you squeal, the industry is hogwash.


Facts about potbelly pigs:

Potbelly pigs can breed when there as young as 6 to 8 weeks old. Some breeders will show potential owners the parents of the teacup pig as a way to "prove" that the adults stay small. Really, the parents are small because they are also still very young.

Underfed pigs suffer from weak immune systems, sensitive skin, and hoof problems.

Owning a pig as a pet is illegal in many places, since pigs are considered livestock regardless of their size.

Cover image: Animals Do