Pam, our perpetual Babe of the Month here at Falling Rock National Park, is a javelina. The photos you see here are of real javelina at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum.
But what is a javelina? Growing up in the desert as I did, I was surprised when people would stare at me blankly when I referenced a javelina. Heck, Blogger keeps telling me that I’m misspelling the word “javelina” as I type this post.
One of the biggest misconceptions about javelina is that they are pigs. Not so, says Texas A&M-Kingsville. Javelinas are also known as collared peccary, partly because of the ring of fur around their necks that resembles a collar.
For a good description of javelina, one cannot go wrong with this, taken from the above-mentioned desert museum:
Javelina meander in loose groups, feeding as they move through an area. They dig up roots and bulbs with their sharp hooves or with their snouts. They eat prickly pear cacti, spines and all, by tearing off bites with their large canines. Because they don’t have sharp cutting teeth, much fibrous material is left on the prickly pear. Javelina chew as they walk, so bits and pieces fall from their mouths, sometimes leaving a short trail.
Javelina live in groups of 2 to 20 animals, the average being about 8 to 12. Each group defends a territory of about 700 to 800 acres, the size and boundaries varying in different seasons and different years; the territories include bed grounds and feeding areas, but they may overlap at critical resources, especially watering holes. An older, experienced sow leads the herd, determining when to bed down, feed, or go to water. Javelina have no defined breeding season; the babies, usually twins, can be born in any month. Not many predators other than a mountain lion will attack an adult javelina, but the babies are also prey for coyotes, bobcats, and other animals.
This link has a good list of differences between pigs and javelina. I even learned something new: javelina can be found in Argentina. Thanks, National Park Service.
My experience with javelina “in the wild,” so to speak, has been limited to early morning sightings along the sides of roads. They travel in packs and you’d better watch out if they decide to cross in front of you. I also saw a pair of javelina when I was out hiking around sunset. They didn’t wander near me, which is fine. They have a reputation for being rather stinky.