Pigs and roosters make for some rad body art, but they can’t swim to save their lives. So why did sailors get tattoos of them on their feet as good luck charms?
The swimming ability of pigs and roosters is not the reason their presence was desirable on board a cargo ship. It was the wooden crates used to transport the animals which proved beneficial to sailors should shit seriously hit the fan. In the case of a shipwreck, there was really only one viable option when the lifeboats filled up: find the most buoyant object within arm’s reach, hold on for dear life, and hope a shark doesn’t bite off a leg. You might be able to scramble atop a broken plank or a passenger’s wooden chest- but chances are you’d be the poor soul clinging to a pigsty or chicken coop. Thanks to the buoyant wooden crates from the pigs and the roosters, the sailors around them had a higher survival rate amidst a maritime disaster (although the sharks got pretty much everybody if another ship didn’t come by soon). This is why pigs and roosters tattooed on a sailors feet is a traditional symbol for good luck and survival at sea, because why not- it can’t hurt, right?