The collared peccary, or javelina, evolved in South America and migrated north, only recently arriving in Arizona. Javelina bones are not found in Arizona archaeological sites and early settlers made infrequent references to their occurrence. It's possible that the peccary spread simultaneously with the replacement of Arizona's native grasslands by scrub and cactus. The collared peccary has one of the greatest latitudinal ranges of any New World game animal, occurring from Arizona to Argentina. The range of the peccary is still expanding, primarily northwestward. In the United States, the collared peccary only occurs in Arizona, Texas, and New Mexico.
Adult javelina generally weigh 35 to 60 lbs, the male being slightly heavier than the female. New born javelina weigh about one pound. They are tan to brownish in color with a reddish dorsal stripe. They acquire adult coloration at three months. The salt and pepper appearance of adults is due to whitish bands on the black hairs. These hairs are up to six inches long, with the mane being blackest, longest, and erectile. In the winter, the coat is very dense and dark and the "collar" is visible. In summer, the javelina sheds hair. The shorter hairs are lighter and the collar frequently is not visible.
Javelina continue to grow until they reach adult height in about 10 months. At this age, the javelina are sexually mature. Being of tropical origin, peccaries are capable of breeding throughout the year, the only wild ungulate in the western hemisphere with a year long breeding season. This long breeding season, early maturity, and the ability to have two litters in one year gives them the greatest reproductive potential of North American big game.
Breeding peaks in January, February, and March. After a 145-day gestation period, most births occur in June, July, and August. This peak corresponds with the maximum rainfall period. Two is the most common number of young. Unlike other animals, the javelina does not lick the offspring at birth, but rolls or tumbles it. The young are precocial, following their mothers shortly after birth and are usually weaned at six weeks.
While javelina have lived to 24 years in captivity, the average life span is closer to seven or eight. Predation on javelina is common from mountain lions and bobcats. Coyotes and golden eagles are effective predators of juvenile javelina.
Since javelina are found in so many habitats, its natural that their foods should vary. Javelina are opportunistic feeders eating flowers, fruits, nuts, berries, bulbs, and most succulent plants. Prickly pear cactus makes up the major portion of their diet.
Javelina were not legally designated as big game until 1929, when a season from November 1 through January 31 was authorized and a bag limit of one javelina a year was imposed. Hunter interest gradually increased, particularly among non-residents, and the javelina became an important game animal in Arizona after World War II. By 1950, hunters were purchasing nearly 10,000 javelina tags and taking more than 1,000 animals a year. In 1959, an archery javelina season was initiated, and by 1971 more than 30,000 hunters were harvesting more than 6,000 javelina a year. This pressure was deemed excessive in some game management units, and permit-only firearm hunting was instituted in 1972. To further curtail hunt pressure and better distribute hunters, permit-only HAM (handgun, archery, and muzzleloader) hunts were initiated in 1974, and archery hunting was limited to permit-only hunting in 1992. In 2006, Arizona began offering javelina permits for fall seasons as well as spring seasons.
Javelina are herd animals with herd sizes averaging 8 to 9 animals. Territories are set up using droppings and the dorsal scent gland to mark these areas. Aggressive displays will be made to intruding javelina. Territory size varies with the productivity of the habitat, but averages about 750 acres.
Breeding Period: Year Round
Young Appear: Year Round
Average Number of Young: 2
Distribution: 1K-6K ft,mostly south of Mogollon Rim
Habitat: Desert, chaparral, and oak-grasslands
Food Preference: Cacti, insects, fruits, and seeds in season Range: 4 sq. miles Live Weight: M-65lbs.; F-50lbs. Predators: Coyote and mountain lion