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            An Ultimate Ungulate Fact SheetReturn to Artiodactyla

             
            Classification
            Kingdom: Animalia
              Phylum: Chordata
                Class: Mammalia
                  Order: Artiodactyla
                    Family: Tayassuidae
                      Genus: Pecari

            Pecari tajacu

                  Collared peccary, Javelina

            Taxonomy

            Pecari tajacu [Linnaeus, 1758].  
            Citation: Syst. Nat., 10th ed., 1:50.
            Type locality: Mexico, designated by Thomas (1911; however, Linnaeus's name Sus tajacu is evidently based on the tajacu of Marcgraf, from Pernambuco, Brazil.

            Click on the pictures above for a larger view of the photographs

            General Characteristics

            Body Length: 80-105 cm / 2.6-3.5 ft.
            Shoulder Height: 30-50 cm / 1-1.6 ft.
            Tail Length: 2-4.5 cm / 0.8-1.8 in.
            Weight: 14-31 kg / 31-68 lb.

            The coat is bristly and is grey to grizzled black in colour.  On the shoulders is a yellowish band which runs under the neck, and gives this peccary its name.  On the back there is a glandular area which secretes a musky, oily substance, while on the face there are preorbital glands.  The ears are small and round, and the eyes are beady.  The barrel-like body is supported by short legs.  The head is pointed, and the nose has a disc of round cartilage at the tip.  The tail is vestigial.

            Ontogeny and Reproduction

            Gestation Period: 141-151 days.
            Young per Birth: 1-5
            Weaning: At 2-3 months.
            Sexual Maturity: females at 8-14 months, males at 11 months.
            Life span: 24 years.

            Just before birth, the female leaves the group, giving birth alone in a cave.  After one day, she then rejoins the group.

            Ecology and Behavior

            During the winter, these peccaries are most active during the day in order to take advantage of the sun's heat, resting in caves or self-dug holes at night.  During the summer, feeding occurs in the early morning and late afternoon, with the noon hours spent resting in the shade.  They are very good runners, and have been clocked at speeds up to 35  kmph / 21 mph.  While their eyesight is poor, peccaries have good senses of hearing and smell.  Groups have individual territories which overlap at focal points such as watering holes and mud wallows, which are used primarily at night.  These territories are usually 0.5-0.8 square kilometers in size.  The inner territory (non-overlapping part) of each group is characterized by smell.  Males often mark rocks and trees near resting areas with their dorsal glands.  At these well-used resting spots and along the territorial boundaries are defecation sites which are visited by the whole herd.  The main herd may split up inside the territory for up to two weeks.  The group is completely closed, with no new members ever being accepted, even though one in every ten offspring born is rejected from the group.  Population densities vary from 1-19 animals per square kilometer.  Numerous vocalizations have been recorded, including snorts, squeals, barks, and rumbling growls.

            Family group: Herds of 2-20 animals, with herds up to 54 individuals being recorded.
            Diet: Roots, fruits, tubers, grasses, leaves, eggs, carrion.
            Main Predators: Coyote, puma, jaguar, bobcat.

            Distribution

            Plains with brush, semi-deserts, and forests in southern North America, Central America, and northern South America.

            Range Map (Redrawn from Bodmer and Sowls, 1993)

            Conservation Status

            The collared peccary is not in danger.

            Remarks

            Javelina is derived from the Spanish word for javelin or sword and is a reference to the peccary's sharp tusks.  Pecary is believed to be a Tupi (Brazilian native) word meaning "many paths through the woods."  Tajacu is a Brazilian name for the peccary.

            Literature Cited

            Bodmer, R. E., and L. K. Sowls.  1993.  The Collared Peccary (Tayassu tajacu).   In Pigs, Peccaries and Hippos: Status Survey and Action Plan.  Edited by W. L. R. Oliver.   Gland, Switzerland: IUCN.  Available online at http://iucn.org/themes/ssc/sgs/pphsg/Contents.htm

            Nowak, R. M. [editor]. 1991. Walker's Mammals of the World (Fifth Edition). Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

            Schmidt, C. R.  1990.  Peccaries.  In Grzimek's Encyclopedia of Mammals. Edited by S. P. Parker. New York: McGraw-Hill. Volume 5, pp. 48-55.

            Wilson, D. E., and D. M. Reeder [editors]. 1993. Mammal Species of the World (Second Edition). Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press.  Available online at http://nmnhwww.si.edu/msw/

            Return to Artiodactyla



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