Javelina, the Gentle Desert-Dwelling Peccary
Javelina are also called the collared peccary. They originated in South America and migrated north, only recently arriving in the southwest US states of Arizona, Texas and New Mexico. They are common in much of central and southern Arizona, including the outskirts of the Phoenix area, most of Tucson and occasionally as far north as Flagstaff.
Adult javelina weight 35 to 60 lbs and the male is slightly heavier than the female. In the winter, their coat is very dense and dark, and their collar, or the short white hairs around their neck is visible. In the summer, the javelina sheds hair and the collar is frequently not visible anymore. Javelina has very poor eyesight but a keen sense of smell, with a scent gland on their back.The average lifespan of a javelina is 7 to 8 years. Predators of javelina include mountain lions, bobcats, coyotes and golden eagles. Javelina live in herds with herd sizes ranging from 2 to 20 animals. They use washes or other areas with dense vegetation to travel. They are most active at night, though they may come out during the day if it's cold. Javelina are opportunistic feeders. They feed on flowers, fruits, nuts, berries, bulbs and any succulent plants that may be available.
How Javelina Interact with Humans
If you live out in the desert and especially near a wash, you might encounter javelina. But don't be alarmed, because javelina will generally cause only minor problems for people, like surprising them or eating a few plants. Javelina can occasionally bite humans, but this is almost always associated with people feeding the animal. People should NEVER feed javelina. Feeding can cause them to lose their fear of people and become regular visitors, creating problems for the neighborhood and often leading to the animal's death.They can also inflict a serious wound if they are feeling threatened. Javelina feel threatened when cornered, are trying to protect their young or when they hear or smell a dog, which, along with the coyote, is a natural predator of the animal. Defensive javelina behavior can include charging, teetch clacking, or a barking or growling sound.
Things that May Attract a Javelina to Your Home
Javelina generally only go near developed areas to look for food, water or shelter. - The food javelina may be attracted to includes vegetation, flowers, and succulent plants that people plant around their home. Birdseed, table scraps and garbage are also appealing to the animals. - Javelina may find water by chewing through a hose pipe or by drinking from a pool or another water source in your home. - Javelina will seek shade during the summer and warmth during the winter. They may find respite from the elements on a porch, under a mobile home, or a crawl space beneath a house.
What to do if Javelina Become a Problem on Your Property
- Scare them off by making loud noises. Bang pots, yell or stomp your foot. You can throw small rocks in their direction or spray them with vinegar, water from a garden house or a large squirt gun filled with highly diluted household ammonia. - If the javelina is trapped behind a gate, have any people present leave the area, open the gate and allow it to leave on its own. - If you see a javelina while walking your dog, avoid approaching the animal and take your dog in a different direction. Because dogs are natural predators of javelina, the two animals can seriously hurt or kill each other. - If a javelina is acting aggressively toward people, is contained or cannot leave easily on its own, call your local animal control agency or your regional Game and Fish Department office.
Javelina are herbivores who live in small herds in the desert. They are generally afraid of humans and will stay away from developed areas unless they are looking for food, water or shelter. Javelina usually present few problems for humans as long as people don't feed them and let them stay wild.