Pigs are not good as house pets – just ask Gren and Barbara Owen, who live at Cowbit.
Most of us wouldn’t dream of having a pig in the house, but it has been fashionable at various times for people to have a pot-bellied pig as an indoor pet.
“People might buy a pig at six weeks when they are 18in long and very cuddly,” said Gren, who runs Pigrest, a small pig sanctuary, at Mill Drove North.
“By age three they can grow to about 110lb and that’s not fully grown. At fully grown they can weigh 220lb.”
A trend for keeping micro and pot-bellied pigs as pets started in the 1960s, with surges of popularity in the ’80s and ’90s and again now, says Gren.
And, according to Gren, this is the worst time in terms of the number of people looking to re-home pigs that have outgrown homes – in some cases apartments – because a lot of people have gone into breeding to make money.
Gren says: “We once had someone call us at midnight because their pig was waking everyone up in a tower block by rubbing itself on the heating radiator.”
When they get a call from an owner desperate to re-home a pig, the first thing Barbara and Gren do is to go on their Facebook page to get the message out to other pig rescue centres across the country. Between them they will try to find a more suitable home for the pig.
There are currently five pigs kept outdoors at their Cowbit sanctuary, the location specifically chosen by them about ten years ago because of its isolation.
Gren said: “If you have pigs all the noise they make is about 120 decibel. People don’t think they make a noise, but they should come here at 5am at feed time – in fact you will hear them anywhere within quarter of a mile.”
Gren and Barbara are experienced and knowledgeable pig owners, and they also know about keeping a pig as a house pet.
It was in 1997 the couple bought their first pig, Bushka, who gained notoriety for the tricks Gren trained her to perform.
When she died they were heart-broken but were eventually persuaded to give a home to a second pig.
Gren says: “The more we found out about pigs the more we realised that they are not good as house pets. We try to educate and invite people to spend an afternoon with us to find out what’s it’s really like to have a pig as a pet.”