Wood Green Animal Shelter is urging people to resist the temptation of buying so-called micro or teacup pigs advertised online.

The charity, which has its headquarters in Godmanchester, has recently had to carry out a rescue mission to save nine badly neglected piglets.

Marie Channer, from Wood Green, which runs one of the largest rehoming centres in Europe, believes that websites are giving people a false impression about micro-pigs they claim will not grow to be particularly big and will therefore be suitable as domestic pets.

"When we arrived to collect the pigs their condition was appalling," said Marie. "Some of them might not have survived had we not received the call when we did."

"There is no such thing as a micro-pig," added Marie. "You have no idea how big the pig will grow. A lot of people deliberately breed the runt of the litter in the hope of having smaller pigs. It's terrible."

One of the rescued pigs was pregnant and went on to have three further piglets and six pigs still need to be rehomed. Wood Green is appealing to caring owners to rehome a small group or at least a pair of pigs.

Marie added: "We're desperate to find some great homes for these lovely creatures. They're superb sociable animals, but they need space and someone who truly understands what looking after pigs requires.

"I would urge anyone who has been tempted by a website displaying micro-pigs or teacup pigs to seriously reconsider. Please call us before making a purchase you may live to regret."

To enquire about the pigs or other animals in need of a home call 0844 248 8181.