A family shares their house with a 20-pound pig that enjoys lounging in front of the fire, roaming upstairs, and scratching the furniture.
Morag Sangster of Edinburgh and her husband John Ryan launched Tribe Sanctuary in Carluke, South Lanarkshire, where they care for four ‘failed micropigs’ as well as more than 100 animals.
Francisco, a three-and-a-half-year-old Vietnamese potbellied cross, was among them. He was mistakenly marketed as a micropig to the family of a 15-year-old girl after catching her attention on Instagram.
The girl persuaded her parents for the charming piglet, and the family from Glasgow traveled down to England to get him – but he was relinquished to the Tribe Sanctuary three months later after becoming too big for the family.
Francisco currently weighs 20 stone, which is double the weight of a healthy adult and is 1.2m in length. After growing accustomed to creature amenities with his previous owners, the enormous hog now lives in a three-bedroom residence.
Francisco is the sole pig who stays in the home, having arrived three years ago during a hard winter – and loa.thing snow when he was thrown out.
Morag, a tattoo artist, allows Francisco to dwell in her home, where the huge hog relaxes in front of the fire as she sits on the sofa. Franscico wanders about upstairs and enjoys spending time in the kitchen.
Fraudsters selling ‘micropigs’ to m.is.led families may make more than £700, as Morag suspects Francisco did.
‘Francisco was three months old when he arrived and was about a foot long; now he weighs 20 stone,’ Morag explained. He’s not a micromanager.’ Having a pig in the house is entertaining, but not for those who value their furnishings.
‘He has chewed a few items and enjoys scratching, so we gave him a blanket.’
‘Standards are thrown out the window, and he goes anywhere he wants.’ He enters the garden and visits the neighbors.
‘Someone went down to England to pick him up; a 15-year-old girl wanted a micropig and spent a lot of money for him; she found him on Instagram.’
‘He was only permitted in the girl’s bedroom and the corridor, and he had a little pen in the yard.’
‘He began sobbing frequently, and his relatives described it as “unwanted behavior.” It’s a huge scam, a huge porky.’
Francisco arrived three years ago during a snowy winter and was carried inside the home because he was used to sleeping in his former owner’s bedroom.
‘When he came, he was used to spending the night in the girl’s bedroom,’ Morag explained.
‘It was winter and quite chilly, so we put him on a blanket in the living room.’
‘It started snowing, which he didn’t enjoy since he has short legs and his belly was touching the snow, and he fled back into the house.
‘Pigs are extremely intelligent; they are smarter than dogs and much easier to teach.’
Francisco sleeps on a futon in the spare bedroom with the couple’s four dogs, and one of them regularly cuddles up to him.
The spoiled pig prefers to sleep in front of the fire or near a heater, and he has his own duvets and comforters.
He eats a banana every morning and also enjoys grapes, almonds, and chewing on straw and hay. He is fed in the conservatory away from the dogs.
He eats special potbellied pig pet food, which costs £15 for 15kg, rather than a regular pig diet, which would lead him to gain weight, and he consumes plenty of fruits and vegetables. ‘He’s got his own comforters and duvets,’ Morag explained. He can’t get as high on the settee as he would want since pigs can’t leap.
‘He enjoys reclining in front of the fire, and if he was watching TV, I could put my feet on him and stroke his tummy.’
‘He sleeps on a futon, which is a super-sized dog bed that is meant to be unbreakable.
‘He and the dogs sleep in the spare bedroom; he goes to bed, and one of them jumps in with him.’
‘Having a large kitchen is helpful since pigs are not agile; he has to do a five-point turn to go about.’
‘He’s fairly communicative, he grunts and squeaks – he’s as gratifying as any cat or dog,’ said the owner.
They are clean animals, and he never uses the toilet in the home.’
She described the micropig trade as “deceptive with potentially tragic effects.”
All six other pigs, including Elvis, who was also purchased as a ‘micro pig’ and weighs 31 stone, and Max and Vera, who were formerly micropigs but were given up, reside in stables.
Morag feels that the ‘big porky’ being sold to well-meaning punters is a cr.uel sc.am.
‘Around 50 “micropigs” are given up each month since they are truly piglets,’ she claimed.
‘A little piglet costs between £25 and £40, while a micropig may cost up to £800.’
It’s wishful thinking, but these guys will make money if others believe what they say.
‘They’ll sell them if they think people are foolish enough to believe it.’ It’s a major issue. There is no such breed as a “micropig.”
‘It’s a piglet or a smallish pig. It is an issue of animal welfare.
‘There is no pig rehoming market; I’m sure many of them wind up at the sla.ugh.ter.house.’
‘There are no laws for selling newborn piglets; you may do whatever you want with pigs.’
‘People keep them in their homes because they are adorable. They can apply for a walking permit, but they can only stroll along particular paths and not near cattle. You can’t take them to the beach or anything like that, as they assumed.
‘Once the pig is in the house, it begins to grow. They will destroy the garden and then confine it in a pen.
‘Pigs miss other pigs and get lonely.’
Morag, a vegan, had a goal of running a rescue center for 30 years.
‘Last lockdown, we got a lot of orphaned lambs because farmers were selling them for “lockdown amusement,” she explained. It’s te.rri.fying.
‘We haven’t witnessed an uptick in rehoming during lockdown, but we’ll see what happens following lockdown.’