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I Am Not a Pig Javelinas Are Collared Peccaries of the Southwestern Desert

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I've lived in Arizona for 69 years (Tucson, Glendale, and Sedona). I love writing about Arizona history, antiques, books and travel.

The Mature Javelina

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Havalinas and Peccaries are NOT Pigs

Collard Peccaries, commonly called Javelinas are often called Javelina pigs, or Wild Boars, but they are not pigs or boars or large rodents.. Javelina is pronounced Have-a-lean-a. Javelina which is a historic Spanish spelling where the letter J is an H sound. Javelinas are actually mammals classified in the Artiodactyla family, which is the same classification as deer. Javelinas can be found in regions of the Southwestern deserts and parts of Mexico and South America. There are varieties of Javelina such as the White Lipped Javelina that live in the jungles and rain forests in South America instead of the dry washes and desert. It is believed that the Javelina evolved from a much larger mammal that existed millions of years ago during the Ice Age. They migrated slowly over time into the Southwestern region of North America. The myth that they are solely a Southwestern desert mammal is just another myth.

Female Javelinas are called sows and males are called boars. Boars are larger than females and grow to about two ft. tall and about 3 ft. long. Males can weigh up to sixty pounds and females about 40 pounds. Their hair is brown to almost black and their bristle hairs are light tan in color and their coarse, spiky hair is almost like looking at porcupine quills. Young Javelina's have reddish hair which falls out when they mature. Their legs are seemingly small in comparison to their bodies and they have hoofed feet. While their coats are darker and heavier in the winter months, Javelinas can't survive in cold climates because of their plant based diet of fruit of prickly pear cactus, cactus pads, tubers, bulbs and nuts. For example, here in Arizona, Javelinas roam freely in Sedona and areas south of Sedona. But just 28 miles to the north of us in Flagstaff which is pine forest with snowfall during winters, Javelinas are not normally found.

Havalina Enclosure in Berizona Williams AZ

Javelina Enclosure in Berizona Animal Park in Williams Arizona

Javelina Enclosure in Berizona Animal Park in Williams Arizona

Habits of the Javelina

Javelinas produce young throughout the year, whenever food is plentiful. Unlike pigs which can produce large liters, Javelinas only have one or two babies. All members of a family group will defend the young. It is very rare to see a Javelina by itself as most often they are in a pack of two to nine.

They have strong scent glands located on their backs that produce a strong foul smell that lingers in the air long after they have actually passed by. Their eyesight isn't great, so they identify other pack members by smell. They are also very territorial and mark their territory by rubbing their scent on trees, bushes cacti and other objects, such as dogs and other animals do. It is estimated that a Javelina will generally live about seven years and will die within a square mile of his birth, unless forced elsewhere. We often see them in the early morning, at dusk and at night. They come from the same direction in the mornings and return to that direction in late afternoons.

They are also territorial about where they have found food, and tend to return to the same place. Flower bulbs are often called Javelina "candy" by my neighbors, although again they are selective in which bulbs they will not eat such as iris bulbs. They rout and dig and trample. Javelinas delight in the prickly pear fruit and the spines on the fruit don't seem to bother them. Other fruits, grasses, flowers, seeds, roots and cactus are their main food sources. They will also eat bugs and grubs. Javelinas can kill snakes, lizards and other small mammals with their razor sharp teeth; however, often they will not eat them. While cats and small dogs can be attacked by a Javelina if they are perceived as a threat, it is not their intent to view them as a source of food. Like bears in some areas, javelinas love to tip garbage cans to root through garbage. They seem to be able to communicate through grunts and squeals. Usually the large males lead the herd.

Since Arizona has a javelina population of 60,000 plus, they can be hunted during the month of February by permit and tag. According to the Javelina population, hunting may be available at other times by checking the Game and Fish rules. Beside humans, javelinas are hunted by bobcats, mountain lions, and coyotes. Young javelinas are prey for foxes and large birds of prey.

No matter how many times people are asked NOT to feed them scraps, often people continue to do so. To keep our fragile environment in balance, javelinas must be allowed to remain wild. If a Javelina has lost its fear and acts in a strange or aggressive manner and does not leave, it might be best to call Game and Fish for removal.

Javelinas on Parade Sedona Arizona

Artist decorated Pink Javalinas for the Pink Jeep Rides Company of Sedona.

Artist decorated Pink Javalinas for the Pink Jeep Rides Company of Sedona.

Javelinas on Parade an Artist Event in Sedona Arizona

Javalinas have become a symbol of the Southwestern desert and the Javelinas on Parade in Sedona featured artist decorated Havalinas with a connection to the sponsoring business.

Also in our area there is Javelina Leap Wine, a popular Mexican Restaurant, the Javalina Cantina and a popular children's book is The Three Javelinas by Susan Lowell instead of The Three Bears.

Female and Young Javalina

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© 2013 mactavers

Comments

mactavers (author) on June 24, 2013:

Thanks Phoebe. They truly are one of those animals that are so ugly that they are cute.

Phoebe Pike on June 24, 2013:

A very useful and informative hub. Even though they aren't pigs they are pretty cute.

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