The Javelina, or Peccary, is a medium-sized animal, with a strong resemblance to a pig. Like a pig, it has a snout ending in a cartilaginous disc, and eyes that are small relative to its head. Also like a pig, it uses only the middle two digits for walking, although, unlike pigs, the other toes may be altogether absent.
Javelina are omnivores, and will eat small animals, although their preferred foods consist of roots, grasses, seeds, fruit, and cacti—particularly prickly pear. The jaws and tusks of peccaries are adapted for crushing hard seeds and slicing into plant roots, and they also use their tusks for defending against predators.
By rubbing the tusks together, they can make a chattering noise that warns potential predators not to get too close. In recent years in Bolivia’s National Park, large groups of javelinas have seriously injured and killed multiple only a few years ago. They have a pungent odor that allows them to recognize other members of their herd, despite their extremely terrible, near sighted vision. The odor is strong enough to be picked up by humans, which earns the peccary the nickname of skunk pig.
The collared peccary is well adapted to habitat disturbed by humans, merely requiring sufficient cover; they can be found in cities and agricultural land throughout their range. Notable populations exist in the suburbs of Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona, where they feed on ornamental plants and other cultivated vegetation. Collared peccaries are generally found in bands of eight to 15 animals of various ages. They will defend themselves if they feel threatened, but otherwise tend to ignore humans. They defend themselves with their long tusks, which sharpen themselves every time their mouth opens and closes.