Javelinas in the Neighborhood - February 21, 2018
Jeff Schalau, Agent, Agriculture & Natural Resources
University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, Yavapai County

The javelina (Pecari tajacu), or collared peccary, is common across much of Yavapai County. However, javelinas are a relatively recent arrival in Arizona. Javelina bones are not found in Arizona archaeological sites and early European settlers made infrequent references to their occurrence. Today, the javelina’s range is from below the Mogollon Rim in Arizona eastward to parts of New Mexico and Texas and southward to Argentina. They have also found their way into Flagstaff within the last few years.

Adult javelinas generally weigh 35 to 60 lbs., the male being slightly heavier than the female. They acquire adult coloration at three months. Javelinas continue to grow until they reach adult height in about 10 months. At this age, the javelina is sexually mature. While javelinas have lived to 24 years in captivity, the average life span is closer to seven or eight years. Javelinas have very close social relationships. They live in herds (sometimes called “sounders”) of 5 to 15 animals which usually eat, sleep, and forage together. Predation on javelina is common from mountain lions and bobcats.

Being of tropical origin, peccaries are capable of breeding throughout the year and can have two litters per year when habitat and weather are favorable. In Arizona, breeding peaks in January, February, and March. After a 145-day gestation period, most births occur in June, July, and August to coincide with the summer monsoon season. New born javelinas weigh about one pound and are tan to brownish in color with a reddish dorsal stripe. Two is the most common number of young. The young follow their mother shortly after birth and are usually weaned at six weeks.

Javelinas designate their territory by rubbing their rump oil gland against rocks, tree trunks, and stumps; this leaves smears of an oily fluid with a musky smell as a marker. In greeting, 2 group members frequently rub each other, head to rump. Both sexes actively defend the home range. Javelinas fend off adversaries by squaring off, laying back their ears, and clattering their canines. In fight, they charge head on, bite, and occasionally lock jaws. Pet dogs are often viewed as predators, subsequently attacked, and can be seriously injured or killed by javelina.

Since javelinas are found across so many habitat types, their foods vary greatly. Javelinas are opportunistic feeders eating flowers, fruits, nuts, berries, bulbs, and many succulent plants. In Arizona, prickly pear cactus makes up the major portion of the diet. However, they are also known to occasionally eat eggs, carrion, snakes, fish, and frogs. Our gardens and landscapes often present them with succulent, novel foods which can lead to great consternation by the owners. A list of javelina resistant plants is available with the online edition (see URL below) or can be picked up at your local Cooperative Extension office.

The most effective way to prevent javelina damage to gardens and landscapes is to exclude them using a sturdy, four-foot tall fence. In situations where solid fences are not feasible, electric fences can be used. A single wire 8 to 10 inches above the ground is most effective. However, given the javelina’s thick fur and shear strength, this strategy is not always successful.

Javelinas are a game animal and may not be hunted without a valid license (consult the Arizona Game and Fish Department for regulations and information). In addition, it is illegal to discharge firearms within city limits or within ¼ mile of residences. A Prescott man recently learned this lesson the hard way when he was arrested for killing a javelina with a shotgun after it entered his home. I have included a link to this story with the on-line version of this column as well as a short YouTube video on javelinas produced by the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

Food and water will attract javelina. Many people feed wild birds and birdseed scattered on the ground is an attractant. To minimize this situation, avoid inexpensive birdseed which contains a large percentage of milo. Pets should be fed indoors. It is essential that people do not intentionally feed javelina (and other non-avian wildlife). When this is done, wildlife can alter their natural feeding behavior and become habituated to humans. It is important that all wildlife fear humans for their own protection and wellbeing.

Follow the Backyard Gardener on Twitter – use the link on the BYG website. If you have other gardening questions, call the Master Gardener help line in the Camp Verde office at 928-554-8992 or e-mail us at verdevalleymg@gmail.com and be sure to include your name, address and phone number. Find past Backyard Gardener columns or provide feedback at the Backyard Gardener web site: http://cals.arizona.edu/yavapai/anr/hort/byg/.

Additional Resources

Javeliva Resistant Plants
University of Arizona Cooperative Extension


Man Takes Plea in Jevelina Shooting
Prescott Daily Courier, April 2, 2014

Javelina, Arizona Game and Fish Department Video

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Arizona Cooperative Extension
Yavapai County
840 Rodeo Dr. #C
Prescott, AZ 86305
(928) 445-6590
Last Updated: February 14, 2018
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