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Pet peeve: Animal lovers fear for pet pigs in Chinese Lunar New Year

Updated : February 03, 2019 05:09 PM IST

With the Lunar Year of the Pig starting on Tuesday, pig lovers in Taiwan fear that a rush of people wanting to usher good fortune into their homes by getting a piglet as a pet may lead to a wave of abandoned pigs later on.

Anita Chen, who runs a social media forum for pet pig owners and has two pig pets at her home in Taipei, said the first thing owners have to consider when raising pigs was freedom and flexibility.

Pigs like her "Xin-Xin" and "Mei-Mei" have the intelligence of a five-year-old child and can open everything from fridges to doors and drawers, often ripping out everything inside, to the horror of their homecoming owners.

"Piglets are very attached to people, they will constantly squeak to make you play with it or feed it," Chen said, adding that many overwhelmed owners abandon their pet piglets in just a few months.

Visitors at a petting farm in the northern city of Taoyuan get a kick out feeding milk to piglets in a pen, and many want to take one home.

"We don't advise this as they are farm animals," said farm owner Yang San-guei.

Bama pigs, the species most commonly kept as pets in Taiwan, may be small and cute when they are young but they can grow to a hulking 60 kg, Yang said.

But if visitors won't be warned off, Yang said he is willing to sell a piglet for 3,000 NTD ($98). The other little piggies go to market when they outgrow their pen.

Veterinarian Chang Chien-ming advised anyone thinking of getting a pig to do their research thoroughly to avoid nasty surprises.

"So that they know how big these pigs can grow and find an adequate veterinary hospital and educate themselves about the medical and nutritional aspects," he said.

He said he had also seen renewed enthusiasm for pigs as pets over the past year.

Veterinary clinics willing to treat pigs are hard to find, Chang said, with only one in a hundred accepting pig patients.

Many owners also soon realise that having a porcine pet can seriously crimp their holiday plans. Pet hotels do not accept pigs.

Abandoned pigs in Taiwan have a harder time finding a new home than cats and dogs.

Publicly funded shelters don't accept pigs as they are not classified as pets, leaving it to pet lovers or private shelters to take them in.

Sin Sin, a 4 years-old pet pig, which has been abandoned before, stands up on two legs for food at her owner Anita Chen's backyard, in Taipei, Taiwan January 28, 2019. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
Sin Sin, a 4 years-old pet pig, which has been abandoned before, stands up on two legs for food at her owner Anita Chen's backyard, in Taipei, Taiwan January 28, 2019. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
Animal shelter owner Luo Hong-Sian pets an abandoned pet pig, in New Taipei City, Taiwan January 29, 2019.REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
Animal shelter owner Luo Hong-Sian pets an abandoned pet pig, in New Taipei City, Taiwan January 29, 2019.REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
Sin Sin, a 4 years-old pet pig, which has been abandoned before, looks for food at her owner Anita Chen's house, in Taipei, Taiwan January 28, 2019. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
Sin Sin, a 4 years-old pet pig, which has been abandoned before, looks for food at her owner Anita Chen's house, in Taipei, Taiwan January 28, 2019. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
Pig shaped cushion and power bank are seen at Anita Chen's house, in Taipei, Taiwan January 28, 2019. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
Pig shaped cushion and power bank are seen at Anita Chen's house, in Taipei, Taiwan January 28, 2019. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
Anita Chen walks her 5 years-old pet pig Mei Mei, which has been abandoned before, near her house, in Taipei, Taiwan January 28, 2019. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
Anita Chen walks her 5 years-old pet pig Mei Mei, which has been abandoned before, near her house, in Taipei, Taiwan January 28, 2019. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
Ge Ge, a pet pig is placed at the backseat by her owner Guo Sheng-Syuan after a health inspection at the vet clinic, in Taoyuan, Taiwan January 30, 2019. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
Ge Ge, a pet pig is placed at the backseat by her owner Guo Sheng-Syuan after a health inspection at the vet clinic, in Taoyuan, Taiwan January 30, 2019. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
Piglets are seen at an animal farm that encourages customer to buy food to feed them or buy them, in Taoyuan, Taiwan January 31, 2019. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
Piglets are seen at an animal farm that encourages customer to buy food to feed them or buy them, in Taoyuan, Taiwan January 31, 2019. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
Piglets are seen at an animal farm that encourages customers to buy food to feed them or buy them, in Taoyuan, Taiwan January 31, 2019. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
Piglets are seen at an animal farm that encourages customers to buy food to feed them or buy them, in Taoyuan, Taiwan January 31, 2019. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
Children feed piglets at an animal farm that encourages customer to buy food to feed them or buy them, in Taoyuan, Taiwan January 31, 2019. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
Children feed piglets at an animal farm that encourages customer to buy food to feed them or buy them, in Taoyuan, Taiwan January 31, 2019. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
Ge Ge, a pet pig lies down near her owner Guo Sheng-Syuan and veterinarian Chang Chien-Ming for check up at vet clinic, in Taoyuan, Taiwan January 30, 2019. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
Ge Ge, a pet pig lies down near her owner Guo Sheng-Syuan and veterinarian Chang Chien-Ming for check up at vet clinic, in Taoyuan, Taiwan January 30, 2019. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
Sin Sin, a 4 years-old pet pig, which has been abandoned before, waits by an open door at her owner Anita Chen's backyard, in Taipei, Taiwan January 28, 2019. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
Sin Sin, a 4 years-old pet pig, which has been abandoned before, waits by an open door at her owner Anita Chen's backyard, in Taipei, Taiwan January 28, 2019. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
Sin Sin, a 4 years-old pet pig, picks a flight with Mei Mei, a 5 years-old pet pig, at her owner Anita Chen' s backyard, in Taipei, Taiwan January 28, 2019. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
Sin Sin, a 4 years-old pet pig, picks a flight with Mei Mei, a 5 years-old pet pig, at her owner Anita Chen' s backyard, in Taipei, Taiwan January 28, 2019. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
A pig is seen at an animal farm that encourages customers to buy food to feed them or buy them, in Taoyuan, Taiwan January 31, 2019. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
A pig is seen at an animal farm that encourages customers to buy food to feed them or buy them, in Taoyuan, Taiwan January 31, 2019. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
Abandoned pet pigs walk inside an animal shelter, in New Taipei City, Taiwan January 29, 2019. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
Abandoned pet pigs walk inside an animal shelter, in New Taipei City, Taiwan January 29, 2019. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
Veterinarian Chang Chien-Ming handles the pills for Ge Ge, a pet pig, at vet clinic, in Taoyuan, Taiwan January 30, 2019. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
Veterinarian Chang Chien-Ming handles the pills for Ge Ge, a pet pig, at vet clinic, in Taoyuan, Taiwan January 30, 2019. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
Ge Ge, a pet pig walks into a vet clinic for health inspection, in Taoyuan, Taiwan January 29, 2019. Picture taken January 30, 2019. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
Ge Ge, a pet pig walks into a vet clinic for health inspection, in Taoyuan, Taiwan January 29, 2019. Picture taken January 30, 2019. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
Ge Ge, a pet pig reacts near her owner Guo Sheng-Syuan and veterinarian Chang Chien-Ming during a check up at vet clinic, in Taoyuan, Taiwan January 30, 2019. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
Ge Ge, a pet pig reacts near her owner Guo Sheng-Syuan and veterinarian Chang Chien-Ming during a check up at vet clinic, in Taoyuan, Taiwan January 30, 2019. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
Anita Chen drags her 5 years-old pet pig Mei Mei, during a short walk, near her house, in Taipei, Taiwan January 28, 2019. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
Anita Chen drags her 5 years-old pet pig Mei Mei, during a short walk, near her house, in Taipei, Taiwan January 28, 2019. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
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