Arizona Javelina, collard peccary – are pig like desert dwellers

What looks like a gray wild boar in AZ and TX?  Javelina – hairy, smelly and oh so adorable!  

Javelina look like wild pigs but they are actually in the genus Pecari and members of the Tayassuidae family.  One way to tell the difference between pigs and peccaries is by the shape of the canine tooth, or tusk.  In pigs, the tusk is long and curves.  In javelinas the tusk is straight.  Collared peccaries have large tusks that sharpen when the mouth opens and closes with which they can slash a predator or unsuspecting human.

Javelinas originated from South America but are common in Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona.   In the United States javelina are found mainly in the southwest.

Javelina with raised hair
Javelina with raised hair

The photo above is a javelina in our Arizona driveway who was not happy with me taking his picture.  See the hairs standing up on his back!

These pig like mammals are grayish, black with a faint white band of coarse hair around the shoulders.  The “collar”.   Collared Peccary are compact and weigh up to 60 pounds with dainty three-toed hooves. 

javelina with baby
javelina with baby called a red.

The word Javelina,  comes from the Spanish word javelin which means spear, referring to their long, pointed canine teeth.  Javelina moms are very protective of their young and will charge if they feel any threat.  When anyone in our area sees a herd of collard peccary with young we turn around and go the other way to keep out of danger!  Javelina can run up to 25 miles per hour.

Baby javelina are born year round but most often from November to March.  The newborn javelinas are reddish-brown and so cute!!  Newborns are called reds.  The average life span of the javelina is 7 1/2 years.

arizona wild pig eats cactus
Collared Peccary, Javelina in the southwest

Their diet consists mainly of prickly pear cactus.  Javelina kidneys are very efficient and filter out oxalic acid found in the cactus.  Collard peccary are omnivores that eat mesquite beans, tubers, seeds, insects and garbage.

Arizona Javelina
Arizona Javelina collared peccary

These omnivores have poor eyesight but a keen sense of smell. The javelinas around our desert neighborhood know exactly when the trash cans will be placed out for pickup!

collard peccary
Javelina look like wild pigs

Collard peccaries are expert desert-dwellers.  They like to forage in social groups during the early morning and evening, then sleep in the shade of mesquite trees during the hottest time of the day.  Javelinas will roll around in water and mud to keep cool.

To enjoy more newborn javelinas – http://tjsgarden.com/2013/01/01/newborn-baby-javelinas-arizona/

baby desert wild pig
baby javelina – collared peccary

Often you may smell a javelina before you see it!  They have a musk gland at the base of their rump that they use to mark trees, rocks and even each other with a sharp scent similar to a skunk.  This scent allows individual javelinas to keep in contact with the herd.

herd of javelina
herd of javelina

Javelina herds rely on each other to defend territory and protect against predators.

Natural predators of javelina are dogs, coyotes and mountain lions.  Arizona game hunters also target javelina.  Personally,  I enjoy their funny demeanor and I like to let them do their piggy thing in peace. 🙂 

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