Active during the day, collared peccaries are known locally by various other names, including javelinas and forest hogs, because of their strong body odour.
Collared peccaries are not directly related to pigs and wild boars. Pigs are native to Europe, Asia and Africa, and were introduced to the Americas by humans. Peccaries do resemble pigs, though, having similar blunt snouts for rooting out tubers and other foods, however peccaries have longer, more slender legs than pigs. Peccaries also eat snakes and small invertebrates. Like many pigs, they appear to be immune to rattlesnake bites.
This species ranges from the south-western United States to northern Argentina. It inhabits grassland and scrubland in the north of its range, but is equally at home in tropical rainforests further south. In many areas, these animals have come to live alongside humans, eating rubbish and food stores. Local people call the collared peccary the javelina because of its small, sharp tusks, which resemble the tips of a spear.
Collared peccaries get their name from the curve of pale hairs that starts behind the neck and runs under the chin to the other side, thus forming a collar. The tusks in the upper and lower jaw fit together snugly and sharpen each other as the jaw is opened and closed.
Scent marking is very important to these peccaries, as a way of marking their territory and keeping in touch with each other. They also use their droppings for the same purpose. Any attempts by a stranger collared peccary to be accepted into the herd will be vigorously repelled and the newcomer driven away. Females give birth on their own, but rejoin the herd the following day. Ultimately, some of their young will also be forced out of the area.
Distribution: Occurs in the southern USA, through Central America (apart from north-central Mexico), and east of the Andes down to northern Argentina and Brazil in South America.
Habitat: Tropical rainforest and grassland.
Weight: 13 - 32 kg (30 - 69 lb); males are heavier.
Length: 82 - 110 cm (32 - 43 in), including tail; up to 51 cm (20 in) tall.
Maturity: Females 9 - 15 months; males 10 - 12 months.
Gestation Period: 139 - 152 days; weaning occurs 2 - 4 months later.
Breeding: 1-3 young born at all times of year.
Diet: Omnivorous, eating vegetation, fruit, roots and carrion.
Lifespan: Up to 24 years, but generally less in the wild.
The head is narrow, terminating in a relatively flexible snout. The ears are small.
The rounded profile is emphasized by the almost complete lack of a tail.
The coat is a greyish to grizzled black colour, with a yellow band under the neck and a bristly texture.
Glands on the back release an oily fluid with a musky scent.
Young collared peccaries are shown here suckling. They are quite different from adults in terms of colouration at this age.