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Potbelly pigs passed off as Pocket pigs going feral in Delaware

State of Delaware
Potbelly Pig

Potbelly pigs passed off as teacup, mini or pocket pigs are going feral in Delaware.

Owners of these pigs are releasing them into the wild once realizing their mini-pig isn’t so mini anymore.

Since 2016, there has been an increase in potbellied pigs running at large in the state, but the Department of Agriculture is raising awareness now as the population is becoming more destructive.

State veterinarian Karen Lopez says Magnolia and Hartly in Kent County and most of Western Sussex County are hotspots for the pigs. She says livestock farmers are frequently reporting them on their properties, and suspects pig owners may be dropping them off, expecting farmers to care for them.

“And I’m not talking about a commercial hog that’s going for meat production, I’m talking about a pot belly pig," Lopez says. "People will call and complain that ‘there’s a pig in my backyard.’ They may not be able to identify that it is a potbelly pig, and it is just destroying their backyard. Rooting up the ground, destroying the grass, eating their garden, and it may stick around in one person's backyard or it may just roam between several houses.”

The wild potbelly pig population is the new feral cat problem in Delaware, and the pigs’ swift ability to reproduce could pose risks for disease for other animals and humans.

The department has had to elect to euthanize some pigs, not only because there are no rescues or people to adopt them, but to eliminate the risk of diseases spreading.

Lopez adds that African Swine Fever is close to the borders in Hispaniola, the Dominican Republic and Haiti, and if it makes its way into America and the feral pig population, it will be impossible to eradicate.

Lopez says anyone that encounters a wild pig should contact the department, and warns those looking to buy a pig to vet the seller and be prepared to care for it.

Rachel Sawicki is Delaware Public Media's New Castle County Reporter. They are non-binary and use they/them pronouns.