Just likes bacon bits are tiny pieces of meat, Bits the micro pig is an ultra-petite porker.
Last week, Shade Trees Nursery in Jamesport picked up Bits, its new mascot, from LaGuardia Airport.
The 16-week-old animal, who was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, weighs 6 1⁄2 pounds. While it’s unclear just how big he’ll ultimately become, Bits will likely remain much smaller than a typical pig.
Myles Caracciolo, who works at Shade Trees Nursery and is the son of owners Lisa and Lou Caracciolo, chose Bits’ name about a year ago because of its miniature connotation. Micropigs are considerably smaller than other breeds. For instance, Ms. Caracciolo said, she has owned potbelly pigs that topped out at 500 pounds.
She said nursery customers love being greeted by Bits, the small, intelligent and loving pig.
“People go crazy when they see him,” she said.
Ms. Caracciolo explained that once Bits is better trained, he’ll be allowed to roam the shop. He will also be featured in the nursery’s advertisements.
“We are planning on doing a ‘Gardening Tips with Bits’ and ‘Bits’ sale of the week,’<\!q>” she said.
Bits will be greeting customers for years to come, Ms. Caracciolo added.
Purchasing a micro pig requires finding a reputable breeder. A lot of people “will say they are selling micro pigs when they’re actually not,” Ms. Caracciolo said.
Some breeders sell pigs that grow to become much larger than advertised, leading people to drop them off at shelters. A full-sized pig has a life expectancy of 15 to 20 years.
On average, micro pigs are estimated to get no larger than 75 to 150 pounds and no taller than about knee height. In contrast, farm pigs can weigh around 700 pounds.
Pigs eat whatever they are fed, so it is easy for them to gain weight fast, Ms. Caraciollo said. She feeds Bits two times a day and his diet is restricted to fruits, vegetables and mini-pig food pellets.
Ms. Caracciolo said she has always wanted a micro pig, even though she loves the animals in general.
“I think pigs get a bad reputation because people think they’re dirty, but they’re very clean and affectionate animals,” she said.
Bits is washed regularly with baby shampoo and enjoys being scratched and tickled. He also likes climbing up Mr. Caracciolo’s back.
In addition to being affectionate, Bits is smart: In just four days, he had already learned the scents and voices of the people around the shop. He even knows his name and will come upon command.
Perhaps most impressive? Bits came to Shade Trees Nursery litter-box trained.