Javelina: You Don’t See ‘Em, But You Sure Can Smell ‘Em

Let’s talk a bit more about the skunk’s stiffest competition:  the javelina.

What Makes the Peccary Smell So Bad?

While describing the javelina yesterday, I didn’t mention the musk gland of these

Note the raised hairs on the back of this javelina!

creatures.  Located on the lower back (above the tail), the peccary uses the scent in various ways.

When excited or alarmed, the javelina raises the dark hairs on his back and squirts his musk scent. The gland looks rather like a nipple — and the liquid is oily and a dark yellow.

The peccary can squirt the fluid several inches. When the pigling *is born, he has a fully functioning scent gland.

The Social System of the Javelina

After telling you how awful it smells, you may be surprised to hear that these

The Javelina roamed freely in South America before gradually moving northward.

animals use the scent for anything other than to ward off enemies.

But first, I need to share a bit more about the social life of a peccary. The javelina is a social animal that travels in mixed family groups (male and females of various ages).

Herds may be as small as 3 – 4 or as large as 20.  It is rare to see a solitary peccary unless he is old, ill or injured.

Peace and harmony are encouraged in the herd by regular physical contact between the members.

Javelinas pair off and stand nose-to-tail and rub their heads over the scent gland of the other animal!

They share their personal scent with the other members of the herd, essentially creating a “herd scent.”

The Peccary’s 2 Main Senses

The javelina is extremely nearsighted.  Because his eyesight is so poor, he relies on smell and sound to navigate in his habitat.

Thus, recognizing the herd’s scent helps him stay with his own group, even if he’s surrounded by many other animals.

Dietary Delights of the Javelina

These animals aren’t real picky about what they eat.  Although they delight in prickly cactus and other succulent plants, they are not above sinking their teeth into rotting carrion on the roadside or carelessly covered garbage.

As their habitat shrinks due to human development, more javelina than ever are interacting with man … and the results are not very pretty!

*   FYI: javelina babies = piglings; swine babies = piglets

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Tomorrow:  How Sharp is Your Fishing Hook? 

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Soon:  When Humans Try to Domesticate the Peccary

Plus

Hunting Javelina and Wild Hogs

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Photo and Map used through Wikipedia’s Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License

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This blog is a companion to my website:  GreatGhilliesAndGraphics.com

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Published in: on May 26, 2011 at 12:01 am  Comments (1)  
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  1. [...] Javelina: You Don’t See ‘Em, But You Sure Can Smell ‘Em [...]


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