Merck Manual

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Overview of Potbellied Pigs


D. Bruce Lawhorn


Last full review/revision Jun 2013 | Content last modified Jun 2013

Potbellied pigs (PBPs) have a short to medium wrinkled snout, small erect ears, large jowls in proportion to the head, short neck, pronounced potbelly, swayed back, and straight tail with a switch at the end. The CON and LEA lines of PBPs at 1 yr of age should not be >18 in. at the withers (ideal height ≤14 in.) or weigh > 95 lb (ideal weight ≤ 50 lb). The life span of PBPs is probably 8–20 yr with ~10–15 yr typical. Very small or obese PBPs may have a shortened life span. For hematologic and serum biochemical reference ranges, see Table: Hematologic Reference Ranges and see Table: Serum Biochemical Reference Ranges.

The term “teacup” pigs has no strict definition, and it is difficult to make an educated guess of mature size without seeing the parents and grandparents, which is rarely possible. Mature size is also heavily influenced by adequate nutrition. In general, when pigs are “selected for smaller size,” in addition to nutritional stunting, many other possible problems of miniature pigs may be magnified. These include hypoglycemia, idiopathic seizures, musculoskeletal deformities, heart disease, cleft palate, atresia ani, and reproductive problems such as dystocia and agalactia.

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Intubation, tortoise
Intubation, tortoise
Intubation technique using a stylet in a tortoise.
Inclusion body disease, slow righting reflex, boa
Inclusion body disease, slow righting reflex, boa
Courtesy of Dr. Stephen Divers.