A cute piggy has become a TikTok sensation after learning to “talk” using buttons to communicate his needs.
Merlin, an eight-month-old Vietnamese mini-belly pig, can ask for food, water, or a walk, and even tells his owner he loves her.
Also called the ‘smartest pig in the world’, he can also use a litter box and has befriended his fellow house rats.
He now has over a million followers on TikTok and Instagram, with his owner Mina Alali, 25, of San Jose, California, explaining, “He has a button that he clicks when he’s hungry. Or if he’s thirsty, and if he pushes out, we’ll go out.’
Merlin can talk using buttons that say messages about wanting to go for a walk or eat or play
Merlin quickly became friends with Mina’s two rats, Millie and Miracle, who ride on his back
Animal lover Mina has wanted a pig as a pet since childhood and finally bought Merlin earlier this year
Mina said, ‘Everyone always says he’s the world’s smartest pig.
“It’s something I never expected, but he learned everything so quickly.
“I just wanted him to have good manners and to be potty trained, but it was so surprising how smart he is.
“Merlin is the most intelligent, cute, dramatic and stubborn of the pigs.”
Mina, a social media manager who describes herself as an animal lover, has dreamed of having a pig as a pet since childhood.
Eight-month-old Merlin started snuggling up in Mina’s bed as soon as he arrived at her house
And that dream came true when she bought little Merlin for £350 in March this year.
She said, ‘I’ve always wanted a pig. The way people react when they see cute dogs is how I’ve always felt about pigs.
‘As a child I went to the petting zoo to see the pigs.
“They are so smart and so cute, and I knew I would adopt one day.”
After bringing him home, Merlin quickly befriended her two rats, Millie and Miracle, both one, and her bearded dragon Mochi, who sadly passed away last month.
And he also showed how smart and affectionate he was — cuddling up to her in bed and seemingly learning commands, such as “sit.”
He is regularly on a leash and loves to stop and play with other animals, especially dogs, who get confused when he grunts
Seeing this, Mina started teaching him how to use a cat’s litter box.
And hoping to teach Merlin to talk, she bought buttons that can be programmed with pre-recorded messages.
Each button has a different message for Merlin to communicate with Mina, including asking for food or water, for a walk, and even to sing and dance with him.
One even says ‘I love you’, which Merlin hits when he notices that 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, each new trick never lasted more than a day.
“If he did something, I’d just repeat the words over and over.
“He knows music and dance, so I’ll either start singing or pick him up and spin.”
Merlin has now amassed more than 1 million fans on social media and is quite famous in his area, he is regularly spotted about
Mina then started posting videos of the 11kg pig on her TikTok account.
And she quickly amassed a million followers from animal lovers around the world.
She said she also felt like a famous person when she walked him around the block.
She said: ‘The first week I felt like a famous person because everyone stopped me for pictures or to pet him.
“What people always comment on is how he wags his tail like a dog, and he smiles like a human when he’s happy.
“He is very sociable and loves to be petted.”
Merlin also likes to play with Mina’s two rats and will carry them on his back for tours of their house.
Mina said, “Merlin is very gentle with the rats, so when I take them out to play and he takes them on his back.
“It’s amazing and it melts my heart.
“I’m sure he would be good friends with all animals. I want to get a dog someday and I think they will get along and become besties.”
Mina’s videos on TikTok cataloging their adventures and training have racked up hundreds of millions of views.
Merlin is so cute that many have also written to Mina, who is a vegetarian, to say she can’t eat bacon anymore.
She had previously shared videos on her TikTok of her bearded dragon Mochi, whom she also trained, which inspired her to train Merlin when she first adopted him.
Mina added, “I just want to make the cutest and healthiest videos I can.”