A cute pet pig has become a TikTok sensation after learning how to ‘talk’ using buttons to communicate his needs.
Merlin, an eight-month-old mini Vietnamese pot belly pig, can ask for food, water or a walk, and even tells his owner he loves her.
Dubbed the ‘world’s smartest pig’ he can also use a litter tray and has made friends with his fellow pet rats.
He has now racked up more than a million followers on TikTok and Instagram, while his owner Mina Alali, 25, from San Jose, California, explained: ‘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.’
Merlin can talk using buttons, which say messages about wanting to go for a walk or eat food or play
Merlin swiftly became friends with Mina’s two pet rats, Millie and Miracle, who take rides on his back
Animal lover Mina had wanted a pet pig since childhood, and finally bought Merlin earlier this year
Mina 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, a social media manager who describes herself as an animal lover, dreamt of having a pet pig since a child.
Eight-month-old Merlin took to snuggling up in bed with Mina as soon as he arrived at her house
And that dream became a reality when she bought little Merlin for £350 in March this year.
She 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.’
After bringing him home, Merlin swiftly became pals with her two rats, Millie and Miracle, both one, and her bearded dragon Mochi, who sadly passed away last month.
And he also showed how clever and warm-hearted he was – cuddling up to her in bed and seemingly learning commands, such as ‘sit’.
He is regularly walked on a lead and loves to stop and play with other animals, mainly dogs, who get confused when he oinks
Spotting this, Mina began to teach him how to use a cat’s litter box.
And hoping to train Merlin to be able to talk, she bought buttons 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.
One even says ‘I love you’ which Merlin hits whenever he senses Mina is sad.
Mina said it never took more than a day to train him – which she did by rewarding him with treats and kisses.
Mina said: ‘He was incredibly easy to train, any new trick never took more than day.
‘If he did something, I would just repeat the words over and over again.
‘He knows music and dance, so I will start singing or pick him up and twirl.’
Merlin has now amassed more than 1 million fans on social media and is quite famous in his local area, being regularly spotted about
Mina then started posting videos of the 25lbs (11kg) hog on her TikTok account.
And she and quickly amassed one million followers from animal lovers across the world.
She said she also felt like a famous person when she began walking him around the block.
She said: ‘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.
Merlin is so adorable that many have also 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.’