Collared Peccaries are found in the Nearctic and Neotropical regions. The 14 subspecies occur from northern Argentina in South America, throughout Central America, and have spread into the southern Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas in the United States.
In South and Central America, the Collared Peccary inhabits tropical rainforests. In the southern United States, herds occur in Saguaro deserts, where they prefer mesquite habitats with an abundance of prickly pear cacti. Collared Peccaries have also become common in residential areas, where they may rely on human handouts for food.
Shoulder height: 0.3 to 0.5 m Length: 0.8 to 1.0 m. Weight: 15 to 25 kg. Collared Peccaries are often confused with pigs due to their appearance. Their coat is a grizzled grayish black throughout, except for a yellowish tinge on the cheeks and a whitish to yellowish collar extending the mane, over the shoulders, and to the throat. While males and females are very similar in size and color, young are a yellowish brown color, with a black stripe down the back. Collared Peccaries have short, straight tusks that fit together tightly enough to hone eachother down with every jaw movement. This razor sharpness gives this species its common name: Javelina: a javelin is a lightweight, tip-shaped spear. Javelinas have a distinct dorsal gland on the rump that is essential in much species-specific behavior. They also have poor eyesight and good hearing, which are believed to contribute to the very vocal nature of this species.
A designated or specific breeding season does not prevail in Collared Peccary herds; rather, mating reflects climate, especially rain, and occurs throughout the year. More young are raised in rainy years. The dominant male does virtually all the breeding. Subordinate males do not have to leave the herd, but are not allowed to approach females in estrus. As a result, bachelor herds do not exist. 1 to 3, but rarely 4, young are born after a gestation period of 141 to 151 days. Birthing mothers retreat from the group; the newborn might otherwise be eaten by other group members. However, mothers rejoin the herd 1 day after giving birth. Only the older sisters of the newborn are tolerated with the young; these often become nursemaids for the new mother. Weaning occurs at 2 to 3 months. Males reach sexual maturity at 11 months; females, at 8 to 14 months. Despite the high mortality rate in this species, members have a life span of up to 24 years, which was observed in captivity.
Collared Peccaries have very close social relationships. They live in herds of 5 to 15 that are notably cohesive; members eat, sleep, and forage together. The exceptions are the old and infirm, who prefer to die in solitude. Herds have a characteristic linear dominance hierarchy, wherein a male is always dominant and the remainder of the order is largely determined by size. The sex ratio is on average, 1:1. Social groups are stable, with little overlap between adjacent groups. Feeding subgroups are formed frequently, and sometimes even serve as the initial nucleus of a breakoff from the original herd. Territories range in size from 6 to 1260 hectares, and depend on herd size and food availability. Territories are defended by the rubbing of the rump oil gland against rocks, tree trunks, and stumps; this leaves smears of an oily fluid as a marker. Scat piles of defecation have also been observed along territorial borders and are believed to be markers. Both sexes actively defend the home range. Collared peccaries fend off adversaries by squaring off, laying back their ears, and clattering their canines. In fight, they charge head on, bite, and occasionally lock jaws. The dorsal rump gland is also used as recognition and identification. In greeting, 2 group members rub eachother, head to rump.
The Collared peccary is very dependent on ambient temperature and seasonal changes. Feeding behavior changes dramatically from summer to winter; night foraging begins earlier in the evening and ends later in the morning as temperature becomes more bearable. Herds even graze during the daytime to utilize the heat of the sun. This species is vocal; several calls have been classified into three categories: aggressive, submissive, and alert.
Collared Peccaries are primarily herbivorous, and have complex stomachs for digesting coarsely-chewed food. In its southern range, this species eats a variety of foods, including roots, bulbs, fungi, and nuts, in addition to fruits and occasional eggs, carrion, snakes, fish, and frogs. In the northern range, Collared Peccaries eats more herbivorous foods, such as roots, bulbs, beans, nuts, berries, grass, and cacti. Despite all this supplementary diet, the main dietary components of this species are agaves and prickly pears. The prickly pear is ideal in the Javelina's arid range due to its high water content. This species is also capable of eating cultivated planted by humans.
Collared Peccaries have for decades been a source of economic income due to their skins and as hunting trophies. They are among the most important big game species in Arizona. The young are often captured and serve as domestic farm animals.
Collared Peccaries have readily habituated urban environments, and often frequent locations where they know they will be fed. Thus, they are potential nuisances.
The main predators of Collared Peccaries are humans, coyotes, pumas, jaguars, and bobcats. For centuries, young Peccaries have been captured, kept as domestic pets, and even fattened by Central and South American Indians. In Peru, 10,000 skins have been exported annually for decades. In Texas, more than 20,000 individuals are shot during the hunting season. Populations are fairly resilient due to adaptability, although subspecies in the tropics are threatened by rainforest destruction.
Lisa Ingmarsson (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.
living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.
having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
active at dawn and dusk
in deserts low (less than 30 cm per year) and unpredictable rainfall results in landscapes dominated by plants and animals adapted to aridity. Vegetation is typically sparse, though spectacular blooms may occur following rain. Deserts can be cold or warm and daily temperates typically fluctuate. In dune areas vegetation is also sparse and conditions are dry. This is because sand does not hold water well so little is available to plants. In dunes near seas and oceans this is compounded by the influence of salt in the air and soil. Salt limits the ability of plants to take up water through their roots.
animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.
forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.
active during the night
generally wanders from place to place, usually within a well-defined range.
rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
associates with others of its species; forms social groups.
uses touch to communicate
Bellantoni, Elizabeth. Habitat Use by Mule Deer and Collared Peccaries in an Urban Environment; Report 42. Tucson: University of Arizona, 1991. Pp.2,3, 32-33
Bissonette, John. Ecology and Ecological Behavior of Collared Peccaries in Big Bend National Park, Texas; Series 6. Washington D.C.: U.S. Department of the Interior National Parks Service, 1982. Pp.ix-xi, 10-11, 15-16, 39-43, 47
Grzimek's Encyclopedia of Mammals. Vol.5. New York: McGraw-Hill Publishing, 1990. Pp.51-55
Hall, E.Raymond. The Mammals of North America. Vol.2. Toronto: John Wiley & Sons, 1981. Pp.1079-1081
Wild Animals of North America. Washington D.C.: National Geographic Society, 1987. P.322