Scientific Name Pecari tajacu
Conservation Status Least Concern
Collared peccary’s are covered in coarse grey to black coat. Running around the shoulders and under the neck is a whitish to yellow collar from which they get their name. Their body shape closely resembles pigs who are members of the Suidae family. These animals are different enough though to have their own family Tayassuidae. Their body is barrel like and supported by slender legs. Around the cheeks the fur is whiter. They have a small tail that is often hidden in their coat and not visible. Protruding from the mouth are small tusks.
They weigh between 14 and 31kg (31 and 68lb). At the shoulder they stand 30-50cm (1-1.6ft) tall. From the head to the base of the tail they measure 80-105cm (2.6-3.5ft) long with the tail adding 2-4.5cm (0.8-1.8in) to this length.
Collared peccaries can live anywhere from 10-30 years.
This species is omnivorous. The majority of their diet is prickly pear which is high in water content which helps in their arid home. They will supplement this with other herbivorous items including roots, bulbs, fungi, beans, nuts, berries, grass and cacti. This is supplemented with small amounts of eggs, snakes, fish, frogs and carrion. They will also journey into human habitations and consume cultivated crops such as tulip bulbs.
North, Central and South America are the homes of the collared peccary. Here they can be found from the Southwestern United States down into the top of Argentina. It is also native to the Caribbean Island of Trinidad.
An introduced population of this species exists in Cuba.
They can be found in a wide variety of habitats ranging from South America’s tropical rainforests to the deserts of the United States. These animals also exist in flooded grasslands and savannahs, subtropical broadleaf forests, shrub lands, savannahs and subtropical grasslands.
Breeding occurs year round with a peak when it rains. If it is rainier than usual during a year more peccaries will be born than normal.
The dominant male will be the only one to breed with all of the females in a herd.
After 141 to 151 days the mother will leave the herd and find a cave. Here she gives birth to an average of one to three young with a rare litter having four. This protects them from being eaten by other members of the herd.
Mothers will return to the herd the next day. Even then though she will only trust her older sisters with them. They will help her care for the young as they grow. After 2 to 3 months these animals are weaned.
Juvenile males are not made to leave the herd but are not allowed to approach females during the breeding season.
Sexual maturity is achieved by females between 8 and 14 months old while males achieve this at 11 months old.
Peccaries vary their behavior by season. Over winter they are active during the middle of the day and retreat to a cave or hole which they dig overnight. This burrow may be built under a trees roots or logs. By summer they are making use of the early mornings and evenings so they can rest in the sun during the day.
Herds of peccary may vary in number from 2-20 animals on average with a maximum of 54 individuals. In these herds one male will be dominant with the rest of the pecking order decided on size. On average herds of collared peccaries have an equal ratio of males to females. When greeting each other one will run the scent gland on their rump against the others head.
To defend the herds territory they will scent mark. This is done by rubbing a gland on the rump against trees, stumps and rocks. They will warn off predators by laying back their ears and chattering the canines. If it becomes physical they will bite each other and charge.
Predators of the collared peccary include coyotes, jaguars, humans and pumas. Young collared peccaries may be preyed upon by bobcats, ocelots and boa constrictors.
Their vocalizations include snorts, squeals, barks and growls.
Collared peccaries are also referred to as musk hogs, Mexican hogs and javelina. Throughout Trinidad they are called the quenk colloquially.
The name peccary is believed to come from the Tupi language of Brazil and mean “many paths through the woods.”
By Bernard DUPONT from FRANCE (Collared Peccary Pecari tayacu) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Geoff Gallice from Gainesville, FL, USA (Collared peccary) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Wing-Chi Poon [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons