Pygmy Pet Travel: Planes

Traveling with an animal is always stressful, but the strict schedules and regulations necessitated by air travel exacerbate the anxiety. Luckily, one factor can mitigate potential stress of flying—your animal’s size. This is where traveling with a pygmy animal can be advantageous; rather than stressing out about size restrictions, you can focus on preparing your pet for the trip ahead and making him comfortable on the day of travel.

 

General Guidelines and why Small Animals Help

Airlines impose strict regulations on an animal’s size and weight. In most cases, the animal and carrier cannot weigh more than fifteen to twenty-five pounds combined, but specific limitations are imposed by each airline. Unless your pet is a service animal, he must fit within a container and under the seat in front of you; this restriction results in very strict carrier size limitations. Traveling with a small animal is an excellent way to guarantee his ability to fly.

If you are traveling with more than one pygmy animal, check your airline’s carrier restrictions. If the pets are small enough to fit two comfortably within a single carrier, most providers will you to bring both without incurring an additional fee. However, this service is not always guaranteed, so it is essential to check before purchasing a carrier and plane ticket.

 

A Warning About Ungulates and other Species

Many of the pygmy pets features on this website are hoofed, or ungulate mammals. In fact, most pygmy animals people keep as pets are hoofed—pigs, sheep, donkeys, goats, and horses. While young, your animal should be able to fit into most airline-approved carriers. As they get older, you will have a difficult time finding a size and weight limit to accommodate your pet. In these cases, you may opt to have your animal travel as cargo, where their size will, likely, not be an issue.

However, before booking a plane ticket or live animal shipment, check with your carrier for specific airline pet policies. Many airlines prohibit ungulates—hoofed mammals—and other untraditional pets from flying in the cabin or as checked baggage, even if they are provided for emotional support or mental health. If you cannot find any such restrictions, call your airline to ask directly; there is nothing worse than a last-minute travel cancellation.

 

Pygmy Spotlight: Falabella (Miniature Horses)

Popular pets, miniature horses are generally less than 34-38 inches from head to tail. Miniature horses fit a height-based definition of a pony, but they retain horse characteristics and are therefore considered to be “horses” by their respective registries. Bred to be friendly and to interact with people, miniature horses are fantastic family pets. The most popular miniature horse breed, the Falabella, is one of the most popular companion horses in the world.

 

The Falabella miniature horse is one of the smallest breeds in the world—they are rarely more than 32 inches tall. They are believed to have descended from South American horses, who, in turn, are the ancestral stock of Andalusian and Iberian bloodlines brought from Europe by the Spanish. The Falabella was originally developed in Argentina from local horses of Criollo stock. Their breeding began in 1868, and additional bloodlines—such as the Welsh Pony, Shetland pony, and other small Thoroughbreds—were introduced in further generations. By inbreeding, breeders were able to maintain a consistently small size.

 

The first Falabella breed registry was established in the 1940, and, twenty years later, the first horses were imported to the United States. These intelligent, easily trainable creatures became trendy pets in the mid-1990s and into the 2000s. They have a sweet personality and enjoy spending time with people of all ages. They also easily adapt to situations and environments very easily.

 

Miniature horses, though small and friendly, still retain natural horse behavior. This includes a natural fight or flight instinct. Therefore, they must be treated like a horse even if their primary purpose is as a companion animal. They require pasture to both graze and run. One acre of accessible roaming area is sufficient for a miniature horse, but if you intend to stable it at night, this acreage can be cut in half. These horses require room to roam, and their spaces should be securely fenced. They can live to be 45 years of age, so do your research before investing in one of these companions.

 

Pick a Pygmy Pet: Pigs!

Pygmy Pigs, also known as teacup pigs, miniature pigs, dwarf pigs, and micro pigs, have become America’s top trendy pet. The term itself refers to a small breed of domestic pig, such as the Pot-bellied pig of Vietnam or the Göttingen minipigs of Germany. These tiny creatures have small, perked-back ears, a potbelly, a chubby figure, a rounded head, a shorter snout, and tiny legs.

Their breeding history is slightly foggy, but we know that pygmy pigs began showing up in the mid-1970s; labs across North America and Europe bred them for use in medical research within the fields of toxicology, pharmacology, pulmonology, cardiology, aging, and as a source for organs for organ transplantation. Pigs are very useful in studying human disease, and—due to their high intelligence—are very easy to manage in a laboratory setting. Though your pygmy pets might have seemed destined to become close companions, they were originally bred for research purposes.

However, these tiny pigs don’t stay small forever. Most breeds of teacup pigs grow up to be between 75 and 200lbs—around the size of a medium/large dog. Though this is significantly smaller than adult farm pigs, which can weigh up to 1,100 pounds, a 200-pound pet is not what most people expect when they purchase a pygmy animal. Moreover, teacup pigs have a long lifespan—they outlive dogs, and they often outlive cats. Their lifespans are often around 15-20 years. If you adopt a pygmy pig, you’re in it for the long haul.

As a result, laws vary on the legality of keeping pigs as house pets. If no such laws exist, your pink little friend may be considered, exclusively, as livestock. If this is the case, be sure to double-check your sources; some towns and cities have ordinances disallowing farm animals within city limits. Pigs are intelligent, adorable, and rewarding pets—just be sure to understand the repercussions in your choice of companion.