Though some people think javelina are a type of wild pig, they are actually members of the peccary family, a group of hoofed mammals originating from South America. Javelina are common in much of central and southern Arizona including the outskirts of the Phoenix area, most of Tucson and occasionally as far north as Flagstaff. Javelina form herds of two to more than 20 animals and rely on each other to defend territory, protect against predators, regulate temperature and interact socially. They use washes and areas with dense vegetation as travel corridors. Javelina are most active at night, but they may be active during the day when it is cold.
Description and Habits
Peppered black, gray and brown hair with a faint white collar around the shoulders
Approximately 19 inches tall
Young born year-round, most often from November to March
Average litter of two
Newborns up to three months old are red-brown or tan and are called “reds”
Live an average of 7.5 years
Very poor eyesight, may appear to be charging when actually trying to escape
Keen sense of smell
Will roll in water and mud to cool off
Scent gland on back; animals from the same herd stand side-by-side and rub each other’s scent glands with their heads; use scents to identify animals from different herds
Need a water source for drinking
Eat primarily plants including cacti, succulent plants, bulbs, tubers, beans and seeds; sometimes eat insects, garbage and grubs
Possible Conflicts with Humans and Pets
Javelina will likely visit occasionally if you live in a semi-urban area near a wash or other natural desert. Javelina usually cause only minor problems for people by surprising them or eating a few plants. However, people should never feed javelina. This can cause them to become regular visitors and lose their fear of people, creating problems for the neighborhood and often leading to the death of the javelina. Javelina occasionally bite humans, but incidents of bites are almost always associated with people providing the javelina with food. Javelina can inflict a serious wound. Defensive javelina behavior may include charging, teeth clacking, or a barking, growling sound. Javelina may act defensively when cornered, to protect their young, or when they hear or smell a dog. Dogs and coyotes are natural predators of javelina, and they can seriously hurt or kill each other. Javelina around your home may also inadvertently attract mountain lions because mountain lions prey on javelina.
What Attracts Them?
Javelina usually visit homes to find food, water or shelter.
Food for javelina can include lush vegetation and many flowers and succulent plants that people place around their homes. Birdseed, table scraps and garbage can also attract javelina.
Water can be provided through chewing on an irrigation hose or by drinking from a pool or other water source around a home. Javelina will also dig and roll in moist soil during summer days to keep cool.
Shelter can take the form of a porch, an area under a mobile home, a crawlspace beneath a house, or any other cave-like area. Javelina will seek shade during summer days and warmth during the winter if these areas are not properly secured.
What Should I Do?
If javelina have become a problem or have caused property damage, see the suggestions below to deal with the situation. Do your part to keep javelina healthy and wild because their removal almost always means death. Work with your neighbors to achieve a consistent solution to the problem.
To discourage a javelina, immediately
Scare off animals by making loud noises (bang pots, yell, stomp on the floor, etc.); throwing small rocks in their direction; or spraying with vinegar, water from a garden hose, or large squirt gun filled with diluted household ammonia (one part ammonia, and nine parts water). The odor of the ammonia and the nasal irritation it causes will encourage the javelina to leave. Avoid spraying ammonia in the eyes as it may cause damage even at this low concentration. Ammonia should not be used around wetlands because it is toxic to fish and amphibians.
If the animal is confined, open a gate, have all people leave the area, and allow it to leave on its own. If it is still there the following day, contact a wildlife control business or the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
If you see javelina while walking your dog, avoid going near the javelina and quickly take your dog in a different direction.