The Desert Animals of Scottsdale, Arizona – The Javelina
This little (or not so little) guy is a common sight in the Sonoran Desert. He is a Javelina and javelinas make Scottsdale, Arizona and the surrounding areas their home.
Many people think that the animal above is a kind of wild boar or pig, descended from the European/Asian pig. And while they fall under the same suborder as pigs, javelinas are actually peccaries, or New World Pigs. And like the pigs we are familiar with, javelinas have snouts and hooves and a similar body shape. You might also hear them referred to as Collared Peccaries.
Javelinas are typically the size of a medium to large dog. On average, they are about 3 and 4.3 feet tall and weigh somewhere in the 44 to 88 pound range.
Javelinas like to eat plants and roots as well as grass and seeds. They will also eat small animals. Prickly pear cacti are a favorite food. You can always tell when a pack of javelinas has been through when you see bite marks and sections missing from local cacti. Or, as many a Scottsdale homeowner has learned, when that lovely section of new plants and flowers you put in mysteriously disappears overnight.
Javelinas typically travel in packs and tend to avoid human interaction. However, during breeding season and when they have babies around, they can be more aggressive and will come after you or your pets. It is always a good idea to give them a wide berth if you come across them in the wild.
Another characteristic of the javelina is its distinct smell. And, it is not a pleasant one. Javelinas have scent glands on their bodies and below their eyes. They rub their scent on plants and other items to mark their territories and they also mark each other to identify the javelinas as members of the herd.
Because I do not get to see them often, javelinas are always a treat to come across. I was even fortunate enough to see a pack with several babies once… Luckily, I was in my car and they went on their merry way.