Everything You Need to Know About the Swimming Pigs of Abaco

Of late, it seems that a large percentage of emails I receive through the blog are related to one topic — Abaco’s swimming pigs.

Everything you need to know about the swimming pigs of Abaco, Bahamas.

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 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?

In about 2014, Green Turtle Cay resident and animal lover, Craig Russell, heard about the pigs and went to see them for himself. Finding the pigs thirsty and malnourished, he took it upon himself to help them. For several years, Craig traveled to No Name twice a week (at his own expense) to bring them food and water.

Everything you need to know about the swimming pigs of Abaco, Bahamas.
The Pig Whisperer,” Craig Russell and his wife, Jan.

Transporting water wasn’t easy on Craig’s small boat. Plus it took up valuable space that could otherwise be used to transport food. At one point, Green Turtle Cay’s Sunset Marine donated a 2,000 gallon fresh water tank, which was a big help.

In early 2019, however, the property at the north end of No Name Cay (aka “Piggyville”) was sold and as of June 2019, Craig was no longer involved in caring for the pigs.

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. If you don’t have access to a boat, some of the local tour operators now offer trips to No Name Cay. They include:

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.

Everything you need to know about the swimming pigs of Abaco, Bahamas.
The 2,000-gallon tank donated by Sunset Marine dispenses water through nozzles to ensure that it remains clean and isn’t wasted.

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. According to Craig Russell, 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.

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 or hungry.

Every year, I receive panicked emails from people who’ve been bitten or injured and who want to know whether the pigs are vaccinated or whether they should be concerned about disease. The reality is that — to my knowledge — the pigs do not receive veterinary care and 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.

Everything you need to know about the swimming pigs of Abaco, Bahamas.

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.
  • 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, or you have other concerns, please contact the Ministry of Agriculture 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?

No, aside from being an animal lover, and wanting to ensure that these helpless pigs are provided for and well-treated, I have no involvement.

WHAT IF I HAVE QUESTIONS THAT AREN’T ANSWERED HERE?

Please contact the Bahamas Ministry of Agriculture’s Abaco office at (242) 367-2240 or (242) 367-2225 or the Abaco Tourist Office at (242) 699-0152.

Everything you need to know about the swimming pigs of Abaco, Bahamas.
Everything you need to know about the swimming pigs of Abaco, Bahamas.

  13 comments for “Everything You Need to Know About the Swimming Pigs of Abaco

  1. Uli Nowlan
    August 8, 2017 at 1:34 am

    I think businesses who advertise the swimming pigs as part of their tourist attraction should definitely participate in contributing to their welfare. I think that there needs to be supervision to prevent accidents or potential disrespectful behaviour from visitors. I cannot thank Craig Russell enough to have taken charge and caring for them , what happens if he cannot be available? Now that it has become a very publicized tourist attraction, everyone who benefits need to step up to the plate and help maintain these animals and keep them fed, watered and safe!

  2. Josefine Waggoner
    August 22, 2017 at 12:22 pm

    I so enjoyed seeing the pigs on No Name Cay. More needs to be done to inform the public about the food and water situation for the pigs. I live in the USA but could I make a small donation for water for the pigs?

    • August 22, 2017 at 12:39 pm

      Hi, Josefine. Thanks for your note. Yes, I’m sure Craig Russell, who keeps an eye on the pigs on a voluntary basis, would welcome your donation. I’ll send you an email with his contact information. Thanks for caring about the piggies!

      Amanda

      • Lana
        April 1, 2019 at 11:05 am

        Please send us Craig’s information. We will be on Guana cay this weekend and will go see the pigs and would like to donate
        Thanks
        Lana

      • April 1, 2019 at 2:30 pm

        Hi, Lana. Thanks for your note. Will send you an email with Craig’s contact info. Thanks for your help!

        Amanda

      • April 1, 2019 at 2:32 pm

        Lana, can you click “Contact Me” at the top of the page and send me a note with your email address? Thanks!

  3. August 29, 2017 at 1:39 pm

    Thanks for the information! I would love to visit!

  4. kitvanderhoff
    October 17, 2017 at 6:22 pm

    I recently went to No Name Cay to see the famous swimming pigs and feed them. They get very excited to see tourists and came running and swimming out to greet our dingy. WEll!!! AS I was attempting to feed one the cuties another jumped at the food and his tooth caught my wrist causing a deep gash. I sure that he was not attacking. Just warn future visitors to be cautious.

    • October 28, 2017 at 12:16 pm

      Hi, Kit. Thanks for your post. The pigs are definitely wild animals, and as such, are unpredictable. As you may have seen if you made it ashore, there are signs warning people to be careful, but I suppose there’s always a risk of injury. Hope your wrist is ok, and folks, please do heed Kit’s warning. The piggies are adorable, but they’re not domesticated.

  5. Larry
    September 2, 2019 at 7:23 am

    My Prayers go out to you and the folks in the Abacos while getting slammed by Hurricane Dorian. God Bless you and keep you all safe. The Piggies too…

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