Mini Pig Oscar’s Biting Phase

People often ask if mini pigs bite; we learned first hand that the answer is yes. Oscar has teeth on the bottom row which I call his “gopher teeth” that make a mini pig bite painful.

Oscar Teeth 6.2.15
Oscar and his bottom “gopher teeth”

Oscar went through a biting phase when he was around 6 to 8 weeks old. He generally bit for two reasons: to play or to show aggression. I did not want a mini pig who bit us, our dogs, or guests in our home, so I set out to stop the biting immediately.

The playful mini pig biting happened when he would run up, bite our toes, and run off again. This was one of his favorite games for a while, and it was cute but still hurt when he clamped down unexpectedly. The fix for this took a few tries but was fairly easy. Each time he bit our toes, we reacted with a loud “ouch” or “no” so that he knew it wasn’t acceptable. We also gave him a toy to essentially replace the toe with an approved chewing option. We didn’t want him to think he couldn’t chew, but he had to chew on the right things. Over the course of a week, this consistent correction worked for the playful biting.

The aggressive mini pig biting was more difficult to correct. When we tried to move him after a nap or tried to put his harness on, Oscar would whip his head around and try to bite. Sometimes he was warning us and wouldn’t clamp down, but I knew this was dangerous behavior and had to be stopped. We used the firm “no” and very lightly tapped him on the snout to try and stop the behavior, but this only had a slight impact. I decided to try a more positive correction, so we gave him cheerios to get him up from a nap and while we put his harness on, and that worked the best. Initially I thought giving him treats would reinforce his bad behavior, but this negotiation worked almost instantly to get rid of the biting and we haven’t had any biting issues for several weeks.

One last thing to mention is that a common reason mini pigs bite is by accident when taking a treat or food from a person’s hand. To avoid accidental biting when feeding or giving treats by hand, place your hand flat on the floor with your palm up and either put the treat in your hand or between two of your fingers. This encourages the pig the take the food gently. When mini pigs are given treats from near or above their head, they learn what’s called “snapping” and can end up biting your hand or fingers when taking the treat.

If you’re having biting issues with your mini pig, give these methods a shot and see if they work for you. You never want to let your mini pig get away with biting, even at a young age, as biting can become a serious behavior problem when your mini pig is bigger. If you are dealing with a more serious biting problem, I recommend checking out this article from the North American Potbellied Pig Association (NAPPA). Part One discusses aggressive mini pig behavior and mini pig biting, and Part Two provides correction tips for more serious biting concerns.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments section and I’m happy to try and help.

Update: After several months with no biting issues, Oscar is biting again. Read this post about his new biting issues and what we are doing this time to stop his biting.

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14 thoughts on “Mini Pig Oscar’s Biting Phase”

  1. My mini pig is chewing the linoleum and carpet. Any tips on how to get him to stop doing this? Ive thought about spraying tobasco on areas hes after but dont want to hurt him.

    1. Hi Tiffany! We have rugs that Oscar likes to root on and chew, so I can kind of relate. My experience is that Oscar chews on the rugs when he’s bored, so I take it as a sign that he needs more stimulation and rooting time. The first thing I do is just try to get him outside for more rooting time. He wears himself out pretty quickly when he can root around outside, and it’s a natural activity so he kind of entertains himself that way. If we can’t get outside for rooting time, I get out his treat ball or his Bob-A-Lot and feed him either entire meals or snacks in them (depending on how much time I have). (Here are the toys Oscar likes: http://lifewithaminipig.com/toys-for-mini-pigs/) He loves chasing his food toys around to get his pellets, so he gets a lot of energy out that way and stays stimulated from making sure he gets every last bit of food out. Other people make their pigs rooting boxes and put treats in there, and that works well for some pigs. For us, when Oscar has had plenty of time to root and is sufficiently stimulated, he is too tired to even bother with chewing or rooting on the rugs. I don’t recommend the tobasco sauce. Pigs need to root and have stimulation, which I’m sure you already know, so I would just take any destruction at this point as a sign that he needs more “productive” stimulation, and hopefully he’ll lose interest in your floors. Hope that helps! 🙂

  2. Hello… My pig is approx. 3 weeks old we have been bottle feeding him but all he does is root on our arms. It sometimes hurts! I thought that maybe that is what they do to their mothers but I was wondering if you had any suggestions on how to positively stop this habit. I have tried giving him blankets to root on instead along with pillows and he only wants our arms. I had a potbelly before that we bottle fed and he never rooted THIS MUCH! Thank you!!

    1. I also take him outside to root everyday. Sorry this dosent relate to biting but this was the closest I could fine to rooting .

    2. Hi Arissa! I know that can be problem for a lot of pig owners, and I’ve heard how much it can hurt. Oscar has done some very light rooting on us but never to the point of pain. I’ve always heard that it’s a positive behavior and is an affectionate sign, but still it can hurt quite a bit. The main thing I’ve heard is to do exactly what you’re doing by using plenty of blankets or even pillows to cushion the feeling of the rooting. Another option I’ve read about is using a rooting box to redirect the rooting, but I don’t know how realistic that is for such a young piglet. Below is a link to an article I really like on rooting that talks some about why they root on people, one being that it’s an instinct the piglet uses to root on his mom to get food, which would make sense with bottle feeding. Sorry I don’t have a great answer for you, but hopefully something in the linked article will help. http://www.pigs4ever.com/pot_belly_pig_information/rooting.php

      1. Thank you so much… he is around 9 weeks now and off the bottle and he has seemed to stop the rooting. Oscar is so cute by the way!

  3. Isabelle is 3 1/2 months old now. She has started this biting stage, plus going after my silky terrier. She is still a little bit smaller than him in size. When she thrusts at us or our dog, I have put her in a “time out” kennel and tell her no, firmly, but when I do she becomes upset and urinates in it, knowing that she will be let out for it to be cleaned up right away. I have put her right back in afterwards, but I’m afraid that by then she doesn’t know why she’s going back in. We have had our dog for almost 9 years now so this was his house first. Any other suggestions to help keeping her from going after the dog or even us at times? This has become a daily problem. Thank you in advance.

    1. Hi Gina! We have had some really similar issues between Oscar and our dog, Rylee. Rylee is in a similar place as your silky terrier; she is older (10 years) and has always been top “dog” in our home. We go through phases with them where they battle every day and then phases where they get along and coexist fairly well. My belief is that it all has to do with hierarchy. Isabelle has probably finally decided to challenge your silky terrier for hierarchy. I used to intervene between our two and finally decided to let them work it out a bit. I’m always near them (I never leave them alone together in the house…even if I’m taking the trash out. I’ll usually put one in a crate or just take Rylee outside with me), so I never let the fighting escalate to a dangerous point. However, I’m concerned they won’t ever stop their battling until they work the hierarchy out, and the problems seemed to get worse when I was constantly intervening. Of course, if yours are fighting to a more serious level, don’t let them work it out like I have been with mine. Our biggest problem is that neither one of them will give in and just let the other one be higher in the hierarchy, so the snipping continues. I think the battles would stop if one would just give in, but they’re both really stubborn. So, for now, I continue to keep a close eye on them but let them work things out. I have stepped in a few times, but I try to hold out if the situation is still safe. If one of yours will “give in” to the hierarchy, I think the fighting will calm down.

      One thing to mention is that I’ve noticed a pattern with Oscar that you may or may not have with Isabelle. When my husband and I start Move the Pig with Oscar, Oscar instigates battles with Rylee more frequently. In fact, if we haven’t been keeping up with MTP and restart it (which happens fairly frequently), I notice Oscar starts snipping at Rylee within a few hours of us moving him. My guess is he knows he’s losing hierarchy with us and is grasping at any hierarchy and starts picking on Rylee to stay “above” her. After a few more days of MTP, the frequent battles between them slow down to normal again. But, it’s something I always know to count on when we restart MTP.

      The kennel situation is frustrating and, since you’re having trouble with that, I would just see if letting them work through things helps. If Isabelle is determined to be “top dog” with your silky terrier, she will likely continue the challenges, despite putting her in the crate, so I wouldn’t even stress yourself out with putting her in there and then dealing with her urinating in it. Here is a post about Oscar and Rylee and their little battles that might be helpful: http://lifewithaminipig.com/our-mini-pig-and-dog-are-enemies-again/.

      It’s so hard to watch your two “kids” battle and challenge each other, so hopefully they can start to work things out.

  4. So my pig cricket is about 4 weeks old and I have been working with him since he was at the breeders now that I have him home he gets really worked up when I pick him up and has been whipping around and bite what should I do? He also does calm down unless I put him down

    1. Hi Sheena! Cricket is probably still just scared and adjusting to home, and unfortunately it takes a while for them to get comfortable at home and start trusting humans. I recommend keeping working with Cricket and continue holding him through the squealing and fits, and it will get better with time. If he was completely adjusted to home and older, I would recommend looking into Move the Pig. But, for now, I would just keep working with him until he feels safe and comfortable at home, and I think you’ll see improvements. If you haven’t checked out our post and video on How to Hold a Mini Pig, I definitely recommend checking it out. Hope that helps! http://lifewithaminipig.com/how-to-hold-a-mini-pig/

      1. So today I was holding cricket through the screaming and fit he whipped his head around and bit me and drew blood do I have a mean pig on my hands? Will it get better when I get him fixed

        1. Fixing him will definitely only improve the situation. Their hormones can contribute to aggression, so fixing him will help his overall aggression and behavior. It’s usually the first thing recommended when a pig is showing aggression and/or having behavior issues. That being said, we’ve had some issues with Oscar head whipping and attempting to bite us. Some of it has improved with Move the Pig, but it isn’t perfect for us yet. Oscar hates being touched on the right side of his face by his cheek (no idea why…), and he will head whip sometimes when we touch him there. So, we’re still doing Move the Pig regularly and working through that issue. I don’t know for sure, but I think a lot of times their biting and head whipping at first is due to fear and being in a new home with new people, and then later tends to be from hierarchy issues. So, once you feel like Cricket is comfortable, I recommend looking into Move the Pig. It’s such a helpful technique for working with mini pig aggression and for understanding how they think and process in general. This is definitely a tough part of mini pig ownership, so hopefully it improves some after he’s fixed and starts to learn his place in the home. Here is the post on MTP if you are interested. http://lifewithaminipig.com/move-the-pig-for-mini-pig-aggression/

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