Lately, it seems that a large percentage of emails I receive through the blog are related to one topic — Abaco’s swimming pigs.
To answer some of your questions, here’s everything you need to know about the porky residents of “Piggyville.”
WHERE EXACTLY ARE THE PIGS?
They’re located on No Name Cay, a small, uninhabited island just south of Green Turtle Cay. Though they roam the entire island, they hang out mainly along the northwest shore of the cay – see a map HERE.
HOW DID THEY GET THERE?
Though wild boars were once common on the Abaco mainland, they’re not native to No Name Cay. So how did these pigs get here?
Some say a group of locals originally put a few pigs on the cay, intending to hunt them later. Others say it was a calculated plan to attract tourists. You hear rumours around town – even a name or two. But no one’s saying for sure. Guess nobody wants to take credit for abandoning live animals on an island without food or a source of fresh water. Who can blame them?
WHO TAKES CARE OF THE PIGS?
Officially? Nobody. Unofficially, a Green Turtle Cay resident, Craig Russell, has taken it upon himself to care for them.
After hearing about the pigs a few years back, Craig, an animal lover, made the trip to No Name Cay to see them for himself. He found the pigs thirsty and malnourished. Since then, he’s traveled to No Name twice a week (at his own expense) to bring them food and water.
Transporting water wasn’t easy on Craig’s small boat. Plus it took up valuable space that could otherwise be used to transport food.
HOW CAN I GET TO NO NAME CAY?
If you’re traveling by private vessel, No Name Cay is a quick, easy trip south from Green Turtle Cay or north from Treasure Cay. As you approach the northwest end of No Name, you’ll spot the water tank and signs, and, upon hearing your boat engine, the pigs will likely come out to greet you. Just anchor offshore and wade in.
If you don’t have access to a vessel, some of the local tour operators now offer trips to No Name Cay. They include:
- Sunset Marine (Green Turtle Cay)
- Brendal’s Dive Center (Green Turtle Cay)
- Bahamas Adventure Tours (Treasure Cay)
WHAT SHOULD I BRING WHEN I VISIT?
WATER: Sometimes, particularly during the heat of the summer, the pigs drain their water tank faster than it can be replenished. Clean water can be poured into the blue barrel and/or white cooler next to the tank.
FOOD: The No Name Cay pigs rely virtually 100% on human beings for sustenance. They’re “opportunistic omnivores,” meaning they’ll eat almost anything — fruit, vegetables, meat, eggs, insects, etc.
Craig says they don’t eat onions or meat with bones (boneless is fine), and they’re not terribly fond of citrus fruit. However, they love bananas, apples, grapes, corn and carrots. They also eat dry swine food, which can be purchased at Price Right Warehouse in Marsh Harbour.
Note: To prevent the pigs from ingesting sand, which can harm them, place food in one of the containers on the beach.
COMMON SENSE: Adorable though they may be, the pigs on No Name Cay are wild animals. Let me repeat. Wild. Animals.
And like all feral creatures, they’re liable to bite or attack if you try to pick them up or get close to their offspring, or if they feel threatened or even just overcrowded. Furthermore, though they appear healthy, nobody really knows whether they have parasites or diseases that could be transmitted to humans.
Please, please — for your sake and theirs — ensure that all members of your party use caution and common sense around the pigs.
DO THE PIGS RECEIVE VETERINARY CARE?
For the most part, no. Though Craig does his best to keep an eye on them, realistically, there’s only so much he can — and can be expected to — do.
HOW CAN I HELP ENSURE ABACO’S SWIMMING PIGS ARE CARED FOR?
- Per the information above, bring food or water when you visit No Name Cay — particularly during the late summer and fall months, when there are fewer tourists about.
- Donate food, or the money for its purchase. For several years, Craig has voluntarily shouldered much of the financial burden of feeding the pigs. As the Piggyville population grows in size and popularity, however, it’s going to take more than one person to support and care for them. If you can help in any way, drop me a note, and I’d be happy to send you Craig’s contact information.
- Treat the pigs humanely and with respect. Feed them only healthy, appropriate foods and clean water. Do not interfere with, tease or harm them.
- On a related note, leave your pets on the boat. I’ve heard of several situations where people have brought their dogs on the beach to chase the pigs. Not only is this dangerous for your dog, but it terrorizes the pigs — which in turn makes them aggressive towards humans.
- If you witness anyone mistreating the No Name Cay pigs, report it immediately to the Ministry of Agriculture office in Marsh Harbour at (242) 367-2240 or (242) 367-2225. If you feel safe doing so, take photos of the individuals or vessels involved.
IS LITTLE HOUSE BY THE FERRY INVOLVED IN CARING FOR THE ABACO SWIMMING PIGS?
I’m asked this question a lot. No, aside from being an animal lover, and wanting to ensure that these helpless pigs are provided for and well-treated, I have no direct involvement in their care.
WHAT IF I HAVE QUESTIONS THAT AREN’T ANSWERED HERE?
Contact me, and I’d be happy to put you in touch with Craig Russell.