Pint-sized pet porker

Twelve-year-old Cheyenne Bernhardt?s cuddles with Bacon, her 2-month-old teacup pig. Before getting the pet, Cheyenne?s parents asked her to write a paper on the animal and how to take care of it.Bringing home the Bacon has a totally different meaning for one rural Marion County family than it does for most people.

Bacon, in this case, is 12-year-old Cheyenne Bernhardt?s teacup pig; she and her family find their newest pet irresistibly cute.

?Bacon behaves similar to a dog,? Cheyenne said. ?He knows what he wants, he answers to his name and he grunts at you if you yell at him.?

Cheyenne?s mother, Brenda, said they brought Bacon home when he was 9 days old and weighed less than a pound.

She said Bacon, born June 28, just turned 2 months old and weighs about 6 pounds.

First things first

Before Cheyenne could buy Bacon, she said her parents told her she had to write a paper about teacup pigs.

?My mom and dad said I needed to write why I wanted him and how he needed to be taken care of,? Cheyenne said.

Thanks to the Internet, Cheyenne said she discovered a lot of information about these miniature pigs, and it helped when she finally brought hers home.

What makes the teacup pig an awesome pet, according to Cheyenne, is that he is potty trained, very clean and low maintenance.

?He plays indoors and outdoors,? she said. ?Like a dog, he likes to lay in the tall grass where it?s cool.?

After Bacon is finished rooting and getting muddy outdoors, Cheyenne said she rinses him off and he is ready to go back inside.

Another plus is that Bacon, contrary to some beliefs about pigs, doesn?t smell badly. Brenda said she thinks one reason he doesn?t carry a bad odor is because at 3 days old, he was neutered and didn?t get the hormone or gene that causes odor.

Keeping busy

Teacup pigs get bored easily, Cheyenne said, and they need to be entertained a lot.

?He is easy to train,? she said. ?I will lay on the ground and say: ?Come on, Bacon, give me kisses,? and he will.?

Cheyenne said her parents and four brothers and sisters like to chase Bacon around, too.

?Bacon is really social with them, but because the little ones chase him, he doesn?t go to them too much,? she said.

Brenda said the little pig can outrun her: ?He is so fast.?

Cheyenne said Bacon likes going in the tractor with her father, Kelly.

Cheyenne said it took the family?s other pets time to get used to Bacon, but now they are all good friends. ?Bacon noses at them,? she said, ?and he will chase the cats and play with them and the cats will chase him, too.?

Buyer beware

Even though these little animals are cute, Cheyenne had some advice to others before they buy one.

While most teacup pigs are only supposed to top out at 16 to 20 pounds, she said, they can get heavier than that.

Brenda said sometimes buyers don?t know what they?re getting into. ?Anybody can tell you anything,? she said.

If Bacon does grow to more than 20 pounds, Cheyenne said she would be OK with that.

Because the Bernhardts live in the country, they are not concerned about his weight?but it might be a problem for other owners.

?Most of his growth is in the first year, but he won?t be full grown until he is 3 years old,? Brenda said.

Meals

Cheyenne said Bacon?s diet consists of miniature-pig food, apples, fruits and vegetables. One of his favorite meals is carrots and peas.

Cheyenne said she has to be careful not to overfeed him: Pigs don?t know when they are full and think they are always hungry.

?If there is food around, he will eat it,? she said.

To avoid overfeeding him, Cheyenne said, the other animals are fed at separate times.

?The hardest thing for me is just cleaning out his litter box every day,? she said. ?But I am glad I got him.?

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