J is for Javelina [hah-vuh-lee-nuh]


Javelina are animals found in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, throughout Mexico and as far south as Argentina. They are also known as a Collard Peccary and are often mistakenly refered to as wild pigs.  They are not pigs; although they do resemble a wild boar. Their eyesight is not great, but they will charge when threatened or protecting their young and they travel in groups/packs. That’s the basics, if you want to learn more about them, I suggest this Javelina Fact Sheet from the Arizona Desert Museum. I could quote a dozen articles, but I thought I would share some personal experiences.

They smell and not in a good way. There is a pungent odor that distinctly says “Hey, javelina in the area.” It’s not a gaggy kinda smell, but strong like a musk. I came home one night to a lame javelina in my driveway. I first knew something was wrong when it didn’t run away.  Over the next few days, it moved from near the house to the end of the driveway. It was the week before Thanksgiving and the smell outside my home was starting to concern me. I called the Wildlife people to ask what I should do if it died. I was informed they would take it away, but only if it died on the street. Should it die on my property, I was encouraged to drag the dead animal to the street. Are you kidding me?  They added to be careful as javelina tend not to leave anyone behind and members of its pack are probably close by. Fortunately, said javelina disappeared before the holiday.

They’ll eat just about anything. I suppose if cactus is one of your main food sources, anything goes. On my street, we do not have the luxury of taking our trash bins to the street the evening before it’s picked-up because the javelina will tip them over, eat what they want and leave a smelly mess. There’s a tiny fenced area in front of my house where we used to keep our trash bins. On more than one occasion, the gate got left open and I woke up to sleeping javelina against my door. Apparently, they were responsible enough to shut the gate. My neighbor has lost many a night’s sleep and plants to these desert dwellers. Over the last 25 years he has experimented with a variety of javelina proofing projects. He now has wrought iron fencing around all his flower beds.

They are not cute. Nope, not even the babies. I was however, fortunate enough to see a newborn once; it still had its umbilical cord attached. The mom dug a hole, partially covered the baby in dirt and went off in search of food.  She wasn’t gone long and the baby couldn’t have cared less. The process itself was fascinating and I tried really really hard to see the cuteness in that baby. I swear it is the only baby anything that I’ve found not to be.

Everyone has critters  in their neighborhood. Racoons, armadillos, squirrels, pigeoons, lions, elephants, kangaroos, bears, and sewer rats to name a few. If I had my pick you can be damn sure it wouldn’t be a rat. That and a lion, well and maybe an elephant.






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