RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas – South Texas is home to an amazing variety of wildlife, and one of the most unique is the Collared peccary or javelina. Richard Moore takes us out where these denizens of the chaparral dwell.
How many peccaries can pack in at the pond? Since, they are crowded in so tight, it is difficult to get an accurate count, but there appear to be 11 collared peccaries or javelina at this South Texas ranch country oasis.
It’s late afternoon, and this herd has arrived to satisfy their thirst before heading out for an evening of foraging. Collared peccaries or javelina as they are commonly known, are the only wild native pig like animal in the United States, and they are found throughout the South Texas brush country.
Although somewhat similar in appearance, feral hogs and javelina are not related. While feral hogs are essentially domestic pigs gone wild, javelina belong to a totally separate family of mammals the peccaries. Two other types of peccaries reside in Mexico, Central and South America.
Native javelina weigh from 40 to 60 pounds, and have very coarse, grizzled grayish coats with a slight whitish collar of fur around their necks, hence the name collared peccary. Javelina travel in small herds or family groups and are primarily nocturnal, but you can catch them out in early morning and late afternoon eating one of their favorite foods, prickly pear cactus.
Javelina are well adapted to the arid southwest, and as opportunistic omnivores will dine on a variety of sustenance from roots, grasses, seeds, fruit and insects. They are not aggressive, but if threatened will defend themselves with their sharp canine teeth or tusks.
They don’t have superior vision, but they possess an excellent sense of smell and will flee if a predator is detected. This herd of javelina has finished quenching their thirst and vanishes into the cloaking brush while all that remains of their presence is that distinctly musky odor peculiar to peccaries.