When army spouse Jane Johnson watched a documentary on micropigs, her serving husband Roger rubbished the idea of them getting one as a pet – as they don’t stay micro for long. But a seed was sewn and in 2011, he succumbed and bought Jane Pumba for Christmas. Now nine years old, the pig loves army life and is quite the local celebrity. We caught up with Roger to find out more.
“Since joining our family, Pumba has embraced her lifestyle as a ‘house-pig’ – she’s not a big fan of the rain,” explains Roger.
“She used to sleep with us, but has broken the bed twice, so she now sleeps in the living room in a bespoke bed I made for her, duly dubbed ‘Pumba Palace’.”
The Johnsons had to get permission from DIO for Pumba to live in their quarter. It’s a relatively straightforward process on the e1132 form, but funnily enough, pig doesn’t appear on the dropdown menu of the list of pets.
You also need to register with DEFRA to keep a pig on your property, just in case there are any disease outbreaks in the local area.
Having Pumba became slightly more complicated when the family were posted to Germany in 2014.
“We had to export her as livestock and then import her from Germany whenever we came home on leave, and we needed a vet to certify her as fit to travel each time,” says Roger. “We purchased a horsebox to move her backwards and forwards, and she now has her own aluminium livestock trailer, complete with a mattress, comfy pillows and blankets.”
She’s also enjoyed outings to local pubs, been camping and has made an appearance at family birthday parties and regimental events.
“Pumba loves going for a walk when the mood takes her,” adds Roger.
“She walks round the estate in Tidworth and at the time of writing, we’re due to move to Pirbright, so she’s looking forward to making new friends in the area.
“Having Pumba is just like having a dog really – except that she weighs 28 stone and is incredibly strong. She sometimes has to be ‘gently encouraged’ to do what you want her to do. I’ve often found myself having a Mexican stand-off with her at 2am in the middle of our estate because she wants to stay out exploring.
“All in all, having a micropig is a lot of fun and we love Pumba to bits, but you do have to plan your life around them. You can’t just simply drop them off with a friendly neighbour. And be warned that ‘micro’ is a very loose term when it comes to pigs and you may have to adapt your lifestyle accordingly, or at least be prepared to get rid of the coffee table!”