An adorable pet pig has become a viral TikTok sensation with more than one million followers who have lauded him as the “world’s smartest pig” as he is potty trained and has learned how to “talk” using buttons with pre-recorded phrases.
When Mina Alali, 25, first adopted Merlin, the now eight-month-old mini Vietnamese pot belly pig, she never expected him to be so clever – but he has since been able to learn how to use a cat’s litter box and even knows how to ask for food and walks.
The social media manager from San Jose, California, started posting videos of the 25lbs (11kg) hog on her TikTok account, @mina.alali, and quickly amassed one million followers from animal lovers across the world.
Mina, who is in a relationship with Zach Klein, 28, who works in influencer marketing, said: “Everyone always comments that he is the world’s smartest pig.
“It’s something I never expected, but he has learned everything so quickly.
“I just wanted him to have good manners and be house-trained, but it’s been so surprising just how clever he is.
“Merlin is the most intelligent, adorable, dramatic and stubborn little pig.”
Mina, who describes herself as an animal lover, was delighted to welcome little Merlin the pig to her home where he became best pals with her two rats, Millie and Miracle, both one, and her bearded dragon Mochi, who sadly passed away last month.
Mina had dreamed of having a pet pig since she was young and those dreams became a reality when she bought little Merlin for £350 in March this year.
She had put off owning one of the omnivorous, hoofed mammals for years, but after seeing a cute video of a hog online she realised she was financially secure enough to finally take the leap and drove four hours to go pick him up.
Mina said: “I have always wanted a pig. The way people react when they see cute dogs is how I have always felt about pigs.
“As a kid, I used to go to the petting zoo just to see the pigs.
“They are so smart and so cute, and I knew I would adopt one day.”
When she saw Merlin, she immediately fell in love and brought him home where she had treats, toys, and a bed waiting for him.
She added: “He was a little bigger and older than all the other pigs, and he had been there the longest. So I decided to take him home.”
Mina said Merlin immediately warmed up to his new surroundings and loved cuddling in bed with her.
The intelligent hog quickly learned how to sit on command, and eventually learned to use the litter box in the flat – although he prefers to go out on walks on a leash.
Mina said: “He was incredibly easy to train, any new trick never took more than day.”
Hoping to train Merlin to be able to talk, Mina bought buttons online which can be programmed with pre-recorded messages.
Each button has a different message to allow Merlin to communicate with Mina, including asking for food or water, for a walk and even for her to sing and dance with him.
Mina said it never took more than a day to train him by giving him treats and kisses after he has successfully completed a task or trick, after lots and lots of repetition.
She said: “Everything he learned happened very fast, never longer than a day.”
Mina added: “If he did something, I would just repeat the words over and over again.
“He has a button where he clicks it when he’s hungry. Or when he’s thirsty, and if he presses outside we’ll go outside.
“He knows music and dance, so I will start singing or pick him up and twirl.”
Mina said people often confuse Merlin for a dog when they go for walks – until they hear him “oinking away” – because he loves playing with other animals and running about.
She added: “For the first week, I felt like a famous person because everyone was stopping me for pictures or to pet him.
“The thing people always comment about is how he wags his tail just like a dog, and he smiles like a human when he’s happy.
“He’s very social and he loves being pet.”
Merlin also loves playing with Mina’s two rats and will carry them on his back for tours around their house together.
Mina said: “Merlin is very gentle with the rats, so when I bring them out for playtime and he would take them on piggybacks.
“It’s amazing and just melts my heart.
“I’m confident he would be good friends with any animals. I want to get a dog one day, and I think they’ll warm up to each other and become besties.”
Mina’s videos on TikTok cataloguing their adventures and training have amassed hundreds of millions of views, and Merlin is so adorable that many have written to Mina, who is vegetarian, to say that they can no longer eat bacon.
She had previously shared videos on her TikTok of her bearded dragon Mochi, who she also trained, which inspired her to train Merlin when she first adopted him.
Mina added: “I just want to make the cutest and most wholesome videos I can.”
You can see more of Merlin’s life with Mina on Instagram @merlinthepig or on TikTok @mina.alali
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