What to Do if You See a Javelina

Javelina Tucson Crossing Street | What to Do if You See a Javelina

We're pleased to present you with a brief introduction about what to do if you see a javelina.

Whether you're new to the sonoran desert or you need a refresher about javelinas, you'll probably pick up some helpful tips and interesting facts in our Q & A.

Answers have been provided by Perri Spreiser, District Ranger at Saguaro National Park.

Q. Are javelinas pigs? If not, what kind of animal are they?

A. Javelinas are not pigs! Despite looking similar to pigs, javelinas are classified as peccaries, members of the Family Tayassuidae, as opposed to pigs, which are part of Family Suidae.

Q. In what season are javelinas most active in Southern Arizona? Are javelinas more active during the day or at night?

A. Javelina are active year-round in Tucson. They do not 'hibernate" in any way, but may be less active and more social during cold spells. Their activity is often defined as crepuscular, meaning that they are most likely to be out and about in the twilight hours around dawn and dusk. They seek out shade in the hottest part of desert summer days and are more light-tolerant in the winter.

Q. I rarely see javelinas during the day. Where do they sleep? 

A. Javelinas are most active in the early morning and late afternoons, though they do shift to be more nocturnal during the hottest times of year. You’re most likely to find javelinas sleeping in a social group under a large mesquite, especially near wash banks, though anywhere with soft soil and protection from predators and extreme temperatures might make a nice bedding site. 

Q. How many javelinas typically travel in a group? 

A. Group size for javelina herds ranges from 6 to 30, though lone males are not uncommon during certain times of the year. Herds tend to be stable, held together by visual and olfactory signals. The animals have a scent gland on the back and, by mutual rubbing, a scent common to the herd is created and maintained as a socializing measure.

Q. When do mother javelinas have their babies? How long do they nurse? How long do they stay with their parents? 

A. Javelinas are the only ungulate in the Americas without a distinct breeding season, meaning that they can have babies any time of year if conditions are good! That said, most javelinas breed during the winter months and give birth 5 months later in time for the summer monsoon rains. The babies (often called “reds” due to their red-brown coloration) will nurse for approximately 6 weeks and may stay with their social group for much longer. 

Q. What do javelinas eat?

A. Prickly pear cactus, both the sweet fruit, and the spiny pads are famously a major part of the javelina's diet, providing water and nourishment. Mesquite beans, full of carbohydrates, are also vital to a balanced diet. They also enjoy the hearts of succulents in the agave subfamily -- again rich in sugars and water.  Small animals, grubs, and insects are taken for variety or adventitiously. 

Q. Are javelinas blind? 

A. Javelinas are not blind, but they are nearsighted (myopic vision) and rely more on their senses of hearing and smelling to perceive the world around them. 

Q. Will javelinas hurt my small child or small pet?

A. Javelinas, like any wild animal, may act in self-defense or in defense of their young. Children and pets should be under your control at all times in javelina country and children should be taught not to approach them (or any other wild animal). All javelina have sharp tusks that they use for defense and, among males, for territorial squabbles. It is not a good idea to find yourself amid a group of javelina, but be aware that they are near-sighted and may scatter in many directions when frightened. Find an object -- tree, rock, your car, or bike -- to stand between you and the animals.

Q. What should I do if there is a javelina in/near my home or workplace? 

A. If javelina are routinely hanging out around your home or workplace it is likely because they are being attracted to a source of food, water, or shelter. They will typically run off if you make loud noises or spray them with a garden hose from a safe distance, but for a longer-term solution you will need to remove or restrict whatever is attracting them to the area. Never feed javelina, and take care to ensure that they can’t access pet food or bird seed. Place a lock on your trash can or attach it to a nearby support so that it can’t be tipped over easily. Fence water features and pools and ensure that birdbaths are out of reach. 

Q. What should I do if a javelina bites me or my pet?

A. As with any mammal bite, infection (including diseases such as rabies and distemper) is possible.  Consult a doctor (for humans) or veterinarian (for pets) immediately after any animal bite, including that of a javelina. Rabies is a fatal disease unless inoculations are started very soon after a bite.  Medical authorities can help you with contacting the Arizona Game & Fish Department in order to track the offending animal. 

Q. Help! Javelinas are getting into my garden, bothering my pet, or knocking down my trash can. Is there a # I can call to have them removed? 

A. First, it is always important to remember that we moved into their home and javelina need space too. If you’ve removed possible attractants and are still having issues with javelinas, most local wildlife control businesses can help by applying/installing javelina repellants. If that is still unsuccessful you may contact your local Arizona Game and Fish Department regional office to see if the javelina warrant removal. This is a last resort as most relocated javelina do not survive due to the stress of relocation and a lack of knowledge about their new location. 

Q. What plants/flowers are javelinas attracted to? 

A. In the desert environment, javelinas are especially attracted to succulent (water-storing) plants such as agave, aloe, cactus. Plants with fleshy tubers and those which produce nuts are also attractive. Javelinas will also be enticed by freshly planted leafy materials, such as petunias and pansies. Frustratingly, they will sometimes root them up without eating them.

Q. What plants/flowers can I grow that javelinas will avoid? 

A. The University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has online resources available listing common javelina resistant plants. Avoid fruit and nut bearing plants, and remember to plant native species when possible. 

Q. Is there such a thing as "javelina repellent"?

A. There are commercial repellents that have shown some success. You'll need to contact a private licensed wildlife/pest control contractor for help with the process. Those in the urban areas where javelina live will be well-versed in their use. 

Q. Can javelinas be hunted? What is the permitting process? 

A. Javelinas can be hunted in Arizona with a valid hunting license. You must apply for a hunt permit-tag from the Arizona Game and Fish Department for either the fall or spring hunting season. 

Q. Do javelinas taste good?

A. Obviously that is a matter of taste!  It must be noted that javelina meat is inedible unless the scent gland on the back is removed during the skinning process. When properly dressed, the meat will be "gamey," but enjoyable to the wild meats connoisseur. The bristly-haired hide can be a souvenir today, but it was often tanned and used for leather goods in the past.

Q. Are javelinas native to Tucson? Where else in the state/country/world will you find javelinas? 

A. The short answer: Javelinas are native to Tucson and have a wide range, with Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas on the northern end and Argentina and Uruguay marking the southernmost extent. They are a strictly New-World species and cannot be found in the wild anywhere expect the Americas. Javelinas are a very adaptable species, capable of occupying habitats ranging from tropical rainforests to deserts.  



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