Have a Javelina Encounter? Here’s What To Do
Among the strange and exotic creatures you might encounter in Arizona, one of the oddest is the collard peccary. Also known as the javelina (pronounced hävəˈlēnə) or the skunk pig.
According to Wikipedia.org, Javelina look like a medium-sized wild pig, but they're in the family Tayassuidae (New World Pigs) which is different from domesticated pigs which are Sus domesticus.
These smelly, prickly creatures live all over the southwestern United States and can also be found as far south as Argentina and in the Caribbean.
A Squadron of Javelina
Since peccaries are social creatures, if you spot one, keep your eyes peeled; the rest of the herd or squadron, won't be far behind. These multigenerational groups can have as many as 100 individuals! In the desert southwest, they usually run around in groups of around 7 to 13.
The Javelina Diet
Javelina are omnivores and eat roots, grubs and even small animals from time to time. Their preferred foods are roots, grasses, seeds, fruit and even cacti, with a proclivity for prickly pear.
These creatures are pushy and strong and have been known to break through gates and fences to destroy gardens and drip irrigation systems.
Humans and Pets Should Stay Away
TheDailyWildlife.com says Javelina have poor eyesight, but a strong sense of smell. Javelina are especially frightened of dogs, and there have been many reports of dogs attacked and injured as a result of a tangle with one more Javelina. If you're walking your dog and spot a javelina, quickly move out of the way and head in a different direction.
According to ABC News15 article from last January, a group of Javelina ran up a wash and attacked a woman's dog in Phoenix. Two men intervened and the dog was saved, but what do you do if you cross paths with a javelina - or an entire squadron of these peccaries?
Javelina will bite to defend themselves. If a human or domestic animal is bitten, the bite may not only be painful, but also dangerous, so treatment should be sought immediately.
TheDailyWildlife.com reports, "Javelinas pose another huge danger to humans because they might be infected with rabies, distemper, or salmonella. Getting in contact with infected javelina can pose a serious health concern. These viruses spread to people from the saliva of infected animals and can result in death."
Secure Your Property
Javelina are not generally aggressive, but they can become a nuisance. They're looking for food sources things like wildlife feeders, garbage, pet food, fruit trees, or certain flowering plants can be a human-provided buffet.
Gardens are also a ready-made source of nourishment for them, and if they gain access, they can decimate your harvest. The best way to protect your garden is to keep food and water sources away from wildlife. Whenever possible, put up a strong wire or electric fence to keep them out.
Scare Them Away
If you encounter a javelina, try to scare it away by making loud noises, bang things, yell, clap your hand or throw rocks at them. If you have access, try spraying them with a garden hose. In most cases, they'll run away on their own.
Living in the desert southwest is like nowhere else on earth. With information and planning, humans can live in peace with our unique desert fauna.