It was a fad for keeping them as pets that caused the plague of pot-bellied pigs in the Belgium municipality of Tessenderlo in the first place.
Originally from south-east Asia, the stumpy pigs have been abandoned by owners when they grew too big, say wildlife officials.
But now they hope that the pigs’ unusual charm as a household companion will encourage people to adopt some of the dozens that authorities have been rounding up in recent weeks.
In the past 10 days, the municipality in north-east Belgium has captured 18 of the pigs, up from an average of one a week, the Flandersnews website reports. While wildlife officials are not sure why there is a sudden increase in pigs wandering into their hands, they are determined to crack down on neglectful pet owners.
“The pigs that have been dumped in Tessenderlo almost certainly used to be pets. They have bred since they were abandoned and this is now becoming a serious problem,” said Rudi Oyen of the Bird and Mammal Sanctuary.
So fed up are the local authorities that they are going to start asking people to register their pot-bellied pigs so they can keep track of their ownership.
Tessenderlo is not the only place to suffer the consequences of people’s bizarre taste in pets. Rumour has it that pet alligators in New York grow up and prowl the sewer systems after being flushed down the toilet by their owners.