WATCH | If you've ever scrolled through social media sites and caught yourself cooing over pictures of tiny pigs, maybe even contemplating getting a tiny pig for yourself, just be forewarned of this buzz word:
Micro pigs. Enticing, but there's really no such thing.
Breeders like to use terms like micro, pixie, nano, or even teacup, which causes people to believe their pet pigs are going to stay extremely tiny. And that's a problem, because these pigs usually grow bigger than people expect.
Pig rescuer Ellie Laks, from The Gentle Barn, says that the pigs we see circulating on social media are really mini pigs. And mini pigs are really just pot belly pigs who won the genetic lottery, having been bred to be smaller than average. Mini pigs usually grow over 100 pounds, but breeders tend to quote far less.
Brittany Whissel, from Penelope's Purpose pig rescue, agrees. She's taken in dozens of pigs that were abandoned when they suddenly grew much larger than the 30 or 40 pounds the breeder promised they'd be.
Hamlet was supposed to be a fraction of his size today. He's anywhere from 250 to 300 pounds at full growth - bigger than his owner was expecting or prepared for. So, he ended up at Penelope's Purpose.
These are labels associated with pigs as pets that are misleading the public into believing a pig can stay an extremely tiny size.
We reached out to the American Mini Pig Association, and they echoed what Laks and Whissel said: Micro, Teacup, Pixie, Nano pigs are not breeds or special types of pigs.
Ellie Laks says the reason breeders get away with this so frequently is because pigs are able to start reproducing at 9 months old, when the parents are still babies and still small. But pigs keep growing for years after that first heat. (Some say they grow until three years old, others say they grow until five.)
Breeders will often flaunt the young parents to show off their tiny size and convince buyers their pigs will stay tiny, too. But buyers often will not realize they're looking at a 10 month old mother, for example.
Then comes the social media accounts, and the micro pig myth lives on. Others get inspired to get their own micro pigs, but most won't do the proper research. For Laks, it's a cycle that breaks her heart.
So to be clear, there is such thing as a mini pig. But a mini pig is just a version of a pot belly pig, and the word mini does not mean it will stay tiny - only smaller than average, but with full potential to still grow rather large. But micro?
Nope, there's no such thing as a micro pig.
Check out another sweet social media animal star: Daisy Underbite.