Major Google Launch Coverage: Are Pet Pigs Really A Thing?

By James O Malley on at

Today Google announced a bunch of new things, but perhaps the most important revelation was that the CTO of Nest, the Internet Of Things company that Google bought up in 2014, Yoky Matsuoka, has a pet pig.

Wait, what?

Apparently so. When demonstrating that Chromecast can now display video feeds from network security cameras, she revealed a pig in what was purported to be her home.

So pigs can be pets?

Yes, but it isn't easy. Reading between the lines on the RSPCA's advice, pigs sound like they're basically a massive hassle. "We have concerns about the welfare of pigs when they're kept as pets, due to how difficult it can be to meet their needs", they say.

"Pet pigs have specific needs and, like farmed pigs, there are strict laws concerning their diet, identification and movement. It can be challenging to look after them properly, which you need to do under the Animal Welfare Act."

The other problem the RSPCA identifies is that pigs are actually massive. They can weigh 35-70kg, and if you get a commercially farmed pig, that can be as much as 200kg. That's about one fifth the weight of a Nissan Micra.

Are pet pigs legal in the UK?

In the US, each state has different laws on what animals you can keep as pets. The good news is though that in the UK, pig ownership is a lot less confusing - just, again, a lot of hassle.

According to the government's GOV.UK website, before you can welcome a pig into your home, you need to register as a pig keeper - and you need to tell the Animal and Plant Health Agency that you've got one. This agency will then give you a herd mark - a unique ID for your pig - which you need to use to identify your pig if you move it around.

Amusingly, if you want to take your pig for a walk, you then need a separate license and even submit your proposed walking route. This may not be approved if you want to take your pig on a walk to a livestock market. Which would be insane anyway - why would you want to torture the other slaughterhouse-destined pigs by giving them a look at what porcine freedom looks like?

According to the government guidance, your walk also cannot pass close to a fastfood restaurant - presumably just in case something resembling actual meat gets anywhere close to your local takeaway.

So should I get a pig?

Umm, probably not. Perhaps better to get a much more manageable guinea pig instead.

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