|Javelinas are the only wild, native, pig-like animal found in the United States. But they are NOT pigs! They are the Collared Peccary and a member of the Tayassuidae family. True pigs are members of the Suidae family. We call them javelinas because of their razor-sharp tusks, Spanish for javelin or spear. They are found in the brushy deserts and rocky canyons of the Sonoran Desert.
Javelinas are very slender, unlike pigs. The adult male ranges from 46-60 inches in length, 20-24 inches in height and weighs between 40 and 60 pounds. They have only 3 toes on each hind foot instead of 4. They can run fast and have been clocked at 35 miles per hour. Their upper tusks extending 1 inches in length, are pointed down, not outward or upward as in pigs.
Their fur is coarse, bristly, black and gray. Stiff hair runs down their back from head to rump, where a scent gland is located. When they get excited, the hairs on their neck and back get bristly and their scent glands emit a musky substance. They will mark their territories by rubbing their dorsal scent glands against tree trunks and other objects. They have a long snout, great for smelling bulbs underground, with fair hearing but poor vision.
What's That Smell?
You can usually smell these guys before you see them! They have a distinct musky odor! Not to mention they makes lots of squealing and snorting noises. Javelinas usually travel in packs of 2-12 but as many as 50 have been seen together. You'll see them out and about in the evening or early morning hours when it's cooler. They need to stay near water sources and burrow under shade trees to keep cool during the hot sunny days. Though Javelinas are generally harmless to humans when undisturbed and will normally ignore them or run from them. But watch out when they are with their babies! OR if one is hunted or injured by a human. The rest of the pack have been known to attack!
Even in captivity, they are unpredictable.
Javelinas eat fruit, bulbs, roots, and they love Prickly Pear cactus! They are vegetarians for the most part but do eat reptiles, insects and worms when plants are scarce.
They breed all year long and bear 1-4 babies (usually 2 babies). Breeding increases during rainy seasons.
In Arizona, they generally mate in February and March , giving birth during the summer. It takes 145 days for the baby to be born. They are able to run within a few hours after birth and remain with their mothers for 2-3 months.
Lifespan & Predators
Unfortunately, they have a high mortality rate but can live up to 24 years in captivity. Average life-span in the wild is 10 years.
Javelinas don't seem to be harmed at all by rattlesnake bites. Their predators include coyotes, bobcats, and mountain lions. In large groups they, can scare off any predator.
It's not recommended that you feed them in your yard since they WILL return and in larger numbers. They will get into your garbage cans, dig holes in your yard, knock over your potted plants eating the entire plant AND eat your vegetable, cactus and flower gardens!