Collared Peccary - Javelina
Javelina with baby. Photo by OldFulica from Getty Images.
Peccaries have large heads and long snouts with thick coats of dark-gray, bristly hair and band of white hair (collar) around the neck. A mane of long, stiff hairs runs down the back from head to rump, where the scent gland is located.
The adult male collared peccary is 46 to 60 inches in length and is usually 20 to 24 inches in height. The adult male weighs between 40 and 60 pounds.
The peccary is colored a grizzled black and gray overall with a dark dorsal stripe but is lighter around the shoulders. The fur is very coarse.
The young are reddish to yellow-brown in color. In adults there is a mane that extends down the crown of the head to the rump, which is most obvious when the peccary is excited.
This species is vocal; several calls have been classified into three categories: aggressive, submissive, and alert.
Collared peccaries have good hearing.
Collared peccaries have a long snout.
Peccaries have 3 toes on each hind foot.
Peccaries usually travel in bands from 6 to 12 although as many as 50 have been seen together. They are most active during early morning and evening when it is cooler. Members eat, sleep, and forage together. The exceptions are the old and infirm, who prefer to die in solitude. Herds have a characteristic linear dominance hierarchy, wherein a male is always dominant and the remainder of the order is largely determined by size.
Peccaries tend to remain near permanent sources of water. Unlike coyotes and bobcats, peccaries are unable to evaporate moisture through panting to prevent overheating. During the fierce heat of midday, peccaries bed down in the shade and forage where it's cooler.
Territories are defended by the rubbing of the rump oil gland against rocks, tree trunks and stumps. Collared peccaries fend off adversaries by squaring off, laying back their ears, and clattering their canines. In fight, they charge head on, bite, and occasionally lock jaws.
In South and Central America, the collared peccary inhabits tropical rainforests. In the southern United States, herds occur in saguaro deserts, where they prefer mesquite habitats with an abundance of prickly pear cacti. They can also be found in semi-desert canyons, cliffs and watering holes near cacti, chaparral and oa .
Food & Hunting
Collared peccaries move about in small family groups, eating roots, fruits, insects, worms, and reptiles. Collared peccaries are primarily herbivorous, and have complex stomachs for digesting coarsely-chewed food. In the northern range, collared peccaries eat more herbivorous foods, such as roots, bulbs, beans, nuts, berries, grass and cacti. Despite all this supplementary diet, the main dietary components of this species are agaves and prickly pears.
Javelina in South Texas. Photo by Jeremiah Psiropoulos from Getty Images.
The dominant male does virtually all the breeding. Breeding occurs throughout the year, depending on climate, especially rainfall; more young are raised in rainy years. They den in hollow logs or hollows in the ground. One to three young are born after a gestation period of 141 to 151 days. Birthing mothers retreat from the herd to prevent the newborn from being eaten by other group members. They rejoin the herd a day after giving birth. Only the older sisters of the newborn are tolerated with the young; these often become nursemaids for the new mother. Weaning occurs at 2 to 3 months. Males reach sexual maturity at 11 months; females, at 8 to 14 months. Despite the high mortality rate in this species, members have a life span of up to 24 years in captivity.
The main predators of collared peccaries are humans, coyotes, pumas, jaguars, and bobcats. For centuries, young peccaries have been captured, kept as domestic pets, and even fattened by Central and South American Indians.
Collared peccaries have for decades been a source of economic income due to their skins and as hunting trophies. They are among the most important big game species in Arizona. The young are often captured and serve as domestic farm animals.
In Arizona, January and February; weeks, in order: archery, H.A.M. (handgun, archery, muzzleloader) and rifle.
Peccaries are not dangerous when left alone but an entire band can attack if one is wounded or pursued. Speedy and agile, they can drive off dogs, coyotes and bobcats.
Like bears and other mammals, they lose their fear of humans when fed by them. Will rummage around campsites like raccoons and are becoming an urban menace.
To observe, watch for feeding areas of cactus and succulents in open range of grasslands or slopes during cooler hours of the day. Use minimal sound and disturbance. View against the wind. Be patient. Javelina are slow-moving, casual animals unless frightened or threatened.
The Chihuahuan and Sonoran Deserts of southwestern Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, southward through Central America to northern Argentina.
Chaco Peccary. (Catagonus wagneri) - S. America
White-lipped Peccary. (Tayassu pecari) - Mexico
While peccaries look similar to pigs, peccaries are classified in a family of their own because of anatomical differences. They are members of the Tayassuidae family while true pigs are members of the Suidae family.
Peccaries are more slender and 30-50 pounds smaller than pigs, have longer, thinner legs and smaller hooves. Peccaries have only 3 toes on each hind foot (instead of 4), and the upper tusks (1.5 inches long) are pointed down, (rather than curled as with some other feral wild pigs). Peccaries also have a powerful musk gland on the top of the rump. Their odor is always apparent, especially when they are excited. You may smell a peccary before you see it.
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