Arizona’s wild collared Peccary or “Javelina”

Mama Javalina with twins

Mama Javalina with twins

Originally from South America, javelinas (pronounced ha-va-lee-na) migrated north into the southwestern United States during the last century.  Although Javelinas may superficially resemble wild boars and domestic pigs, these species of animal are not closely related.  Javelinas have an excellent sense of smell, average hearing, and poor eyesight. Their tusks grow vertically rather than away from the face which gives them a friendlier appearance than a pig.  A musk gland on their rump gives them their characteristic smell and serves to mark their territory and keep in contact with the herd.  They travel in bands of approximately 12 and need an area of about 750 acres although some males are rejected by the band and travel alone.

Babies may be born in any season, after a gestation period of 5 months.  Females can have two litters per year.  Twins are the most common, although a single baby or triplets are also possible.  Babies weigh 1 pound at birth.  The entire herd will defend the youngsters against predators or perceived dangers, so keep your distance if there are babies in the herd.  Right now we have twins that are about 12″ long and are probably a week old.  The most curious in the herd are the adolescents.  They want to investigate everything in their environment.

Chiefly vegetarian, half of their diet is comprised of prickly pear cactus which supplies not only food but water, but they also eat roots, fruit, grasses, mesquite beans, palo verde beans, sotol, nuts, and other succulent vegetation including many landscaping plants.  Dusk and early morning are their favorite times to feed when the weather becomes hot although they can come around at any time of the day or night.  Like many wild animals, they can lose their fear of people and become more of a threat, so we ask that you keep your distance and treat them like the wild animals they are.  Already the herd here connects people with food, so they sometimes approach to see what you might have for them.

A herd at our Tucson Arizona B & B is a threat to small dogs, but our cats know them well and are desert wise.  They even tease the pigs and then jump up on the wall to escape and gloat.  The babies make a sound not like a pig but like the quack of a duck.  It is hard not to try and pet them, but mother would let no one near, and they must retain their wildness for their own safety.

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One Response to “Arizona’s wild collared Peccary or “Javelina””

  1. Over the past 14 years that I’ve stayed with the Browns at their lovely B&B, I’ve had the opportunity to observe these little creatures… the Javelina.

    They may look cute and cuddly, but they are indeed wild and hide substantial tusks under those cute peccary lips. Many times, they can be seen feeding by the watering pond at breakfast time – they’re easy to watch through the huge picture window from the breakfast table.

    Nothing like being in the desert where you see javelina by day and hear coyotes by night.

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