Rooting & Nudging
Rooting is a natural behavior for pigs where the pig uses his snout to push or nudge into something repeatedly. Pigs root in different ways for different reasons: for comfort, to communicate, to cool off, or to search for food. It’s important to give your mini pig appropriate outlets for their rooting such as blankets and a patch of yard they can root.
It starts when they are born, piglets root at their mother’s teat to trigger milk letdown. This is both instinctual and comforting for piglets. After the piglets are weaned, they will continue to root for comfort similar to toddlers using a pacifier. They will root against their family, blankets, or flooring. Piglets are more likely to root for comfort when they are tired or hungry. Piglets will outgrow this type of rooting as they mature. Piglets that were weaned too early or taken away from their mother will have a harder time outgrowing the need for comfort rooting. To avoid bruises, teach your piglet to root into a blanket or stuffed animal instead of your skin. Simply redirect the piglet to the chosen item when they start rooting. You will need to do this repeatedly until they get the hang of it.
Rooting is used a lot in pig communication at all ages. Pigs will root at your legs gently to politely ask for a bite of food while you’re making dinner. They will root hard enough to leave bruises to demand food if they are allowed. They will root your hand to ask for belly rubs if they are feeling neglected. When pigs are intact (not spayed or neutered) they will aggressively root your legs out of sexual frustrations, which usually leads to humping and biting.
When pigs are outdoors they need a way to cool off. If a mud hole or kiddy pool is available, they will use this. If there are no other places to lower their body temperature in the heat, they will use their snout to dig a hole into the cool dirt. If your mini pig is rooting holes to lay in during the summer, consider adding a small pool to prevent overheating.
Pigs are food driven. They naturally use their snout to root in search of food. Outside they will do this by digging up grass or other plants in search of roots and bugs. There is no prevention or training that can stop this. If your pig is becoming destructive in the yard, he will need a fenced area where he is allowed to root.
Rooting is a natural behavior that pigs need an outlet for. Restricting rooting or outdoor time will frustrate the pig causing behavioral issues. When their needs and outdoor time are not met, they may even become obsessive rooters indoors, ruining carpeting or laminate flooring.