Javelina in Texas

Collard Peccary 

The javelina is not really a pig but a member of their own family, the peccary.   Only one of the three different species is found in the United States, the collared peccary or javelina.  (have ah lee nah)  In Spanish javelina means spear or sword, referring to the tusk like sharp, cutting canine teeth  Adults weigh up to 60 lbs and are black and gray with a lighter colored collar.  Youths are reddish to yellow brown.  In Texas the javelina are mostly found in the arid regions of West Texas or the brush country of South Texas.  They travel a tight range of usually less than one mile in small herds sleeping in caves and feeding on grasses, mesquite beans, fruits, insects and their favorite food, prickly pear cactus which supplies at least half of their food requirement and most of their water needs.  They will forage for food in campgrounds.  Tent campers in Big Bend National Park are often advised to partially break camp and leave their tents flat on the ground for the day while they explore the park to prevent javelinas from raiding and tearing into tents and supplies.  At the nearby Davis Mountains State Park the javelinas make the rounds of the campground at dawn and dusk rooting around for food.  As with all wild animals people should not feed them.  They are rarely agressive towards humans unless cornered however they will cripple or kill an approaching dog who perhaps reminds the javelina of the coyote who preys on their young.  When they come around you will probably smell them before you actually see them due to a musk gland on top of the rump releasing a strong odor especially if alarmed.  They have poor eye sight but excellent hearing.  If they stay and rummage around your campsite you can scare them off with loud noises.  They are very vocal and good runners.  They may snort, squeal and whoof as they take off at speeds up to 21 mph.  In Texas javelinas are game animals and may be hunted with  a license during hunting season.  Other predators include bobcats, coyotes and mountain lions.

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