Farm Horizons, June 2015
Do pigs make good pets?
By Starrla Cray
Lenny eats like a pig, but that’s OK. (After all, he is one.)
“His favorite foods are Lays potato chips and gummy bears,” said his owner, Abby Pawelk, whose family operates LuceLine Orchard in Watertown.
Lenny came to the orchard as a tiny baby two years ago. He weighed about as much as a pineapple then, but has since grown to between 40 and 50 pounds.
“During orchard season, he really chunks up,” Pawelk said, adding that the family refers to him as “Luce Line Lenny.”
When the orchard isn’t open, Lenny stays at Pawelk’s home in Victoria.
“He gets into everything,” Pawelk said, noting that she’s learned to keep a close eye on him.
Early on, Lenny figured out how to open the refrigerator with his snout, and he ate some pheasants that Pawelk’s fiancé had hunted.
Lenny also knows how to jump on a chair and open the cupboards. Once, Pawelk came home to find Lenny covered in flour.
“He looked like a ghost pig,” she said, adding that she now has locks in the kitchen, and Lenny stays in a large kennel when she’s not home.
Lenny can also be mischievous outdoors. When Pawelk first moved to Victoria, for instance, she found Lenny burrowed into a bag of dog food at the neighbor’s house.
“He’ll do anything for a bite,” Pawelk said.
Normally, Lenny eats pig pellets from Waconia Farm Supply, but he also likes watermelon, bananas, spinach, and pretty much anything else.
Lenny also likes to wiggle into small spaces.
“He’s gotten stuck in pillowcases, and he was once stuck in the sleeve of a jacket and couldn’t get out,” Pawelk recalled.
Despite Lenny’s quirks (or maybe because of them), Pawelk has grown thoroughly fond of her little pet in the past two years.
“He’s got his own personality,” she said. “When his tail’s wagging, you know he’s happy.”
Lenny is best friends with Pawelk’s cat, and the two of them can often be found snuggling together.
Lenny is also quite the ham, and made a public appearance at the Monticello Middle School Jan. 30.
Students had raised nearly $6,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and seeing four of their teachers kiss Lenny was their reward.
Smooching a pig might seem a little unsavory, but Lenny is actually a relatively clean animal. According to a PBS article, pigs refuse to relieve themselves anywhere near their living or eating areas when given a choice.
Lenny is bathed once a month, and Pawelk oils his skin every other week to prevent dryness.
“He loves bath time,” Pawelk said.
Do pigs make good pets?
According to potbellypigs.com, pigs are among the smartest animals. (Monkeys are first, followed by dolphins and whales.) PBS notes that pigs are considered more trainable than cats and dogs. Although they are curious and intelligent, pigs require a great deal of attention and are not an ideal pet for everyone.
Miniature potbellied pigs can weigh up to 100 pounds and have an estimated lifespan of 15 to 25 years. Some cities have restrictions on the ownership of pigs. Pigs root (or dig) for food with their snouts, so they should have an area with beach balls, newspaper, and other materials, with small amounts of dry food.
Here are the “Pet of the Month” unofficial star ratings. (One star is the worst, and five stars is the best.)
• Cost: ***
• Ease of Care: *