Tuesday, July 2, 2013

A Week of Hogwash: Kunekune Pigs.

Pigs are one of the more common domesticated animals on the planet. They have been kept by humans since at least 11,400 B.C.E., and have had two independent instances of domestication. Able to eat almost anything, the Chinese used them almost like a garbage disposal for table scraps. With all that history, we have to have at least one weird pig breed out there...right?

Source. With piggies for sale.

Ta-da! It's a bunch of Kunekune piglets! They are all members of a rare breed from New Zealand. The breed supposedly spawned from Asian pigs brought to the Maori in the 19th century. They are known for being fuzzy, easy to handle, and surprisingly colorful for swine. The word "kunekune" means "fat and round" - an apt name for any pig, really.

Less charming as adults.

There are two main features of the Kunekune: its fur and its wattles. Unlike the more common farm swine, Kunekune are furry like wild pigs. They come in a variety of colors, including black, ginger, and white with black spots. Some Kunekune pigs also have fleshy protrusions called piri piri. They're reminiscent of the wattles on goats, but are kinda rare in pigs.

As this video from Animal Kingdom indicates, Kunekune pigs are very popular at petting zoos. They can also live just fine on grass, as opposed to foraging and tearing up lawns. It helps further that they are miniature by pig standards- they weigh 240 pounds, tops. Yes, that is indeed small for a pig. It also makes them one of the ideal pet pigs if you are so inclined.

Alas, as far as pigs go, Kunekune pigs are rare. The breed went nearly extinct in the 1980's. Breeding programs in New Zealand and the United Kingdom are the only reason Kunekune pigs are still around. If a prospective pig owner can find one, great - they're intelligent (like most pigs!) and easy to train. Just be prepared, unlike a certain member of the Simpson family - Spider-Pig does not a good pet make. 

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