That is a very startling—and unappetizing—shade of blue.
Reddit user GlendilTEK recently posted these pictures online, claiming that the pig was harvested on private land by relatives near Morgan Hill, California. The feral pig appeared to be normal at first, but when the hunters cut it open, it revealed a layer of fluorescent blue fat. In the pictures it appeared that the rest of the pig was normal-looking and the blue color seems to be isolated entirely to the fat.
“We have no clue why the fat is this color but it is all over the pig no matter the section,” GlendilTek wrote.
Why is this pig blue? Is the meat safe to eat? GlendilTEK said they have contacted researchers at University of California, Davis and sent a sample in to determine a cause for the blue fat. In the meantime, observers seem to agree that it could be one of several things. Some speculated that the pig may have been consuming chemicals containing blue dye, that the coloration may be due to bacterial contamination, or that it may be caused by a genetic defect. So far, the most popular answer is that the animal had been eating something laced with rat poison.
In an article published by UC Davis, researchers explained that wildlife in California are often exposed to anticoagulant rodenticide (AR) through animals that have the most direct contact with it: rats, mice, and squirrels.
“Although uncommon, some AR baits contain a dye that causes a marked color change of fat and tissues in animals after ingestion,” the article stated, displaying a picture of blue pig fat similar to the one seen in GlendilTEK’s photos.
AR is extremely toxic, even to animals it was not designed to kill. The effects of rodent poison are specific to the species, and even large animals like dogs can still die from excessive AR consumption. With animals like pigs, liver damage and other health issues are expected.
Another hunter from Morgan Hill commented that AR is commonly left out for ground squirrels. They warned emphatically against eating the meat.
Sure enough, GlendilTEK later reported that local predators avoided the pig with the blue fat.
“Have not heard back on the results, but have let the carcass sit for about a day, no animals seem to touch it or try to eat it which was interesting,” GlendilTEK posted on Reddit. “Also, they reached out to there [sic] neighbors and no one mentioned any dying of food, but I will ask them if they will ask specifically about it. Lastly, they do have some old mercury mine shafts on the ranch, but those are filled in. They have also shot wild pigs before on their property and they have not been blue.”
Other, more amusing theories include a constant supply of water from a portable toilet, or as always, the involvement of aliens. OutdoorHub has reached out to wildlife officials in California for additional information.
What do you think caused the blue coloration? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.
Update 9-10-2015: A public information officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife responded to our inquiry and said the blue color was likely caused by rodent poison or pesticides. Blue fat in pigs is seen occasionally in California and is often a result of the animals eating ground squirrel bait. Officials do not recommend eating meat from these animals.