An invasive animal species or invasive animal is a live animal not native to or generally found in Delaware that has become overpopulated and causes harm to the environment, adversely affecting habitats and bioregions or causing ecological, environmental, or economic damage. The Delaware Department of Agriculture (DDA) and the State Veterinarian oversee exotic animal species in the State of Delaware and have the authority to determine whether an exotic animal species is invasive. If an animal species is considered invasive, the sale, trade, breeding, import, barter, gifting, release into the wild, and auction of the animal species is prohibited.
Feral swine of any kind
People selling potbellied pigs entice pet owners with marketing terms such as micro pigs, teacup pigs, mini pigs, pocket pigs, and pygmy pigs. New pet owners believe they will have a cute little piglet to love, but as these animals age, they can grow quite large while becoming hard to handle and contain. Potbellied pigs can weigh between 70 to 200 pounds and can live upwards of 15 to 20 years.
Since 2016, Delaware has been experiencing a significant increase in potbellied pigs running at large in residential and rural areas, including on state lands. Potbellied pigs are non-native to the State of Delaware, and many animals are eventually abandoned by their owners; they are not in good care; have been a nuisance for private property owners; and, with the species’ early reproductive capacity, can become feral quickly and may contract contagious and infectious diseases that can spread to both people and animals.
An Invasive Animal Permit is required if you own a potbellied pig, or any pig breed advertised as micro pigs, teacup pigs, mini pigs, pocket pigs, or pygmy pigs, or a potbelly cross including pigs with genetics from American Guinea Hogs, Julianas, KuneKune, and Meishan.
Potbellied pigs and feral swine that are on the loose can serve as a reservoir and transmit viral and bacterial diseases and parasites that can affect people, pets, livestock, or wildlife. The main pathogens that we are concerned about include:
Before the date of public notice, currently set for August 12, 2023, an owner or caretaker that possesses, breeds, sells, or exhibits an animal species determined to be invasive is required to:
While livestock owners are used to tagging their animals for identification, we realize people who own these animals as pets may have difficulty with this. The goal of using visible identification, in the form of an ear tag, is to keep your animal safe if it gets out of the house or escapes your property. Using a brightly colored ear tag, selected just for permitted invasive animals, state and federal officials can tell these animals are registered with DDA and can connect to see if an owner has reported them loose. Each animal has a specific ID number on these tags, which, when seen from a vehicle or through aided vision, will allow us to connect with the owner of record. These tags will be provided free of charge and the animals will be tagged during the on-site inspection.
If you do not feel comfortable with the ear tag, you will have the option to microchip your animal. Despite the regulations stating that the animal must have visible identification, you will not be in violation if you choose to microchip your animal.
You must schedule an appointment with a licensed veterinarian to have your animal microchipped before your on-site inspection. The licensed veterinarian must provide you with a copy of the universal microchip number and proof that they microchipped the animal to submit to DDA Poultry and Animal Health staff at your on-site inspection. You will also need to sign a waiver because if your animal is microchipped, without any visible identification, and you do not report within 12 hours of it being at large, the animal may be euthanized.
Under 3 DE Admin. Code 906, the Department, State Veterinarian, or duly authorized agent can access the premises where the animal species is being held to assess compliance with the regulation, to examine the welfare of the animals, and in the event of or threat of a contagious or infectious disease.
After you submit your application for an Invasive Animal Permit, a Poultry and Animal Health staff member will contact the applicant to schedule an in-person on-side premise inspection. This inspection will ensure that you are in compliance with 3 DE Admin. Code 906, including adequate housing and secure fencing so the animals cannot escape and that males and females capable of reproducing are separated so that breeding does not occur. If your animal needs to be tagged, this will be done at this time, but if your pig has been microchipped, paperwork will be collected and the microchip will be confirmed using a universal microchip wand reader. The staff member will review the remainder of the Invasive Animal Permit application with you to initial and sign off, along with a waiver if your animal is microchipped.
Within 12 hours, you must report that your invasive animal is loose. You will have 72 hours to recapture your animal, providing reasonable assistance and cooperation to the Department. If, after 72 hours, your animal cannot be successfully captured, it will be euthanized.
Male potbelly pigs can breed as early as eight weeks of age, and the females can become pregnant at three months. Owners are encouraged to spay or neuter their pet pigs to prevent unintended litters. In addition, neutering male potbellied pigs can help to decrease behavioral issues, including aggression and the innate need to roam when a sow or other animal is in heat. If your animals are neutered and spayed, making them incapable of breeding, they can be housed together. Documentation from a licensed veterinarian who performed the procedures will be required. If they are not fixed, and the female can get pregnant, they must be housed separately.
First, please do not abandon or release your animal into the wild. This is illegal and you will contribute to the growing feral swine population in Delaware. These animals pose significant threats to Delaware lands, livestock, natural resources, and human health.
If you want to transfer ownership to another person, a rescue, or relocate the animal across state lines, you must notify DDA in writing on forms provided by DDA of such transfer or relocation. No transfer of possession or relocation of an invasive animal species may occur unless and until the transferee or the person accepting the related invasive animal applies for and is granted a new permit by DDA as provided for in this regulation or receives approval from the State Veterinarian to relocate such an invasive animal across state lines.
Any owners that no longer wish to keep their potbellied pigs can relinquish them to the Delaware Department of Agriculture by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Before changing possession or relocating an invasive animal for any reason, the person transferring ownership or person relocating the invasive animal species must notify DDA in writing on forms provided by DDA of such transfer or relocation. No transfer of possession or relocation of an invasive animal species may occur unless and until the transferee or the person accepting the related invasive animal applies for and is granted a new permit by DDA as provided for in this regulation or receives approval from the State Veterinarian to relocate such an invasive animal across state lines.
No, if an individual or retail establishment is found selling or otherwise making an invasive animal species available to members of the public, the establishment will be found in violation of 3 DE Admin. Code 906, and any invasive animal species found on the establishment’s premises may be seized and euthanized.
Anyone who owns a potbellied pig, or any pig breed advertised as micro pigs, teacup pigs, mini pigs, pocket pigs, or pygmy pigs, or a potbelly cross including pigs with genetics from American Guinea Hogs, Julianas, KuneKune, and Meishan, must apply for an Invasive Animal Permit by August 12, 2023. Each individual animal requires a separate permit. Owners should only complete the front page of the application, as the second page will be completed at the on-site premise inspection.
Owners can submit the application to email@example.com or mail the application to the Delaware Department of Agriculture, 2320 S. DuPont Hwy, Dover, DE 19901.
Once the application is received and reviewed, a Poultry and Animal Health staff member will contact the applicant to schedule an on-site premise inspection.
If you have additional questions that were not answered, please contact the Delaware Department of Agriculture Poultry and Animal Health Section at firstname.lastname@example.org.