The Key to Good Eavesdropping

“The key to good eavesdropping is not getting caught.”
Lemony Snicket, The Blank Book

Along with the few dogs walking their people, familiar birds, lizards, a coyote, solitary power walkers, and a regular group of youthful women who jog together on Saturday mornings, I also see  a particular sounder (herd) of collared peccary, during my early dawn walk abouts the neighborhood. 

There are about twelve of the Collared Peccaries, which is average for a group, the smallest a  baby and always running very fast to keep his position just beneath the slower moving mother or nursemaid. They always give me  a wide berth if in the open, or quickly hide if there is cover. The rest are of mix sizes and genders, with one, maybe two males topping sixty pounds. Locally we call them Javelina, but I’ve also heard them referred to as Quenk, Skunk Pig, B’quiro, or Sainos.

They  announce themselves with  a swampy, too deep musk odor.  Both male and female have glands that run the length of their backs, and each member of the herd ritualistically grooms with one another, mixing their individual scents into one,  to create a distinctive stink for their herd.

Today’s Collared Peccaries are quite small compared to their predecessors 25 million years ago who left behind in the Agate Springs Quarry in Nebraska fossilized jaw and teeth that indicated a skull length of over three feet.  These modern urban desert versions have dainty small feet, and fashionable slender legs to support a barrel shape body and big heads.

They can look fairly menacing with razor sharp tusks and a mouth full of teeth  that they snap together loudly when distressed. But my experience for many years has been that any  sudden charging on their part is more likely they have heard and  smelled me and are coming closer in  their very near sighted attempt to see what I am. While I have had many encounters with the Javelina, and have never been shown aggression, I would never consider feeding, touching, or cornering them, always mindful they are best as wild beasts. They grunt, snuffle, bark and woof their way through the neighborhood early to forage on the well maintained irrigated  landscaping or remain ‘outside’ on the Nation Forest Trails where they take big bite-fuls of the toughest prickly pear cactus, seemingly without distress, getting not only food, but moisture during dry periods.

While certainly not fully nocturnal, they do tend to be most active at night, dusk, and dawn, taking their repose in hidden, secluded shady overhangs, ledges, arroyos during the bright heat of the daylight hours.

People have strong, often opposing opinions, ideas, or fears about the Wildlife in the neighborhoods.  I’ve learned to never speak out loud in passing to anyone about seeing the Javelina. Even when the entire  Javelina clan are silently hiding in plain sight, eavesdropping on the unsuspecting gathering  of young women,  finishing off their coffees with some Girl Talk before starting their Saturday morning jog.

“Let’s get going.”  says the pretty brunette dressed in blue.”Something really stinks.”

I wish each and all a safe, calm, and peaceful weekend.

If you are interested in knowing more about the Collared Peccary this is a very interesting read:  Habitat Use by Collared Peccaries in an Urban Environment
Elizabeth S. Bellantoni and Paul R. Krausman
The Southwestern Naturalist
Vol. 38, No. 4 (Dec., 1993), pp. 345-351
Published by: Southwestern Association of Naturalists

DOI: 10.2307/3671613  Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3671613
Page Count: 7
Today’s Music: Dave Edmunds & the Rockpile: Girls Talk

 

37 thoughts on “The Key to Good Eavesdropping

  1. Seems like you’re in another country altogether…quite different from the east coast. Great information. Made me think of spiders and the innocent ignorance that causes some to fear all types. Better to be safe than sorry if not informed I suppose. I enjoyed this read JoHanna.

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  2. They do look cute and so not scary at all. Nice shots too, one looks like the rock, great camouflage. Thanks for sharing their awesomeness, and for not ratting them out 👍.

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    1. I guess I have been taking the Peccaries for granted as I did not realize how new a critter they are to so many people. Thank you for your lovely compliments, Lillian. Very much appreciated on this Monday morning.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Johanna, this is a fascinating post – I have never heard of these before and great to read about their history. How did you get so close for such good photographs? They look so cute in some. Thank you for sharing; loved learning about the Javelinas.

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    1. This particular Sounder of Peccaries and I have encountered each other numerous times. They used to really scatter far initially, but without indulging in trying to anthropomorphize them, I believe they now know I will not come ‘too close,’ have no intention of wanting to habituate or harm them, and except for the momma who quickly stashes her baby, the rest pretty much ignore me.

      What was so hilarious about this series of photos was they were so close to the gathering joggers who never noticed the Peccaries were leaning in close listening, except for one gal who smelled them.

      Thank you for your kind words and visit. All my best to you.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You have wonderful patience to earn their trust in this manner – what amazing photos and experience. I had to smile at your comment about the joggers being totally unaware of their presence. My mother and I often comment on what all the runners miss as the swish by whilst we enjoy long walks together, taking in the countryside, flowers, animals.

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    1. Their petite feet and slender legs really make them seem somehow pieced together from several very different animals. Happy to have made the introduction, Kim…let’s just hope they do not show up in your beautiful English Garden!

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  4. You took some great shots. I learned about Javelina’s when I visited Sedona last year but never saw one. I actually thought this species of animals was make believe because of the children’s book, The Three Little Javelina’s.

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  5. Cool Post with great pictures; I have only seen the Javelinas a couple of times and they were gone before I was able to get the camera raised. Both times were very early in the morning.

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  6. I love this post – these little guys are just too cute and I wish we had them in my neck of the woods! Coyotes – no thank you. When we lived in the country they took down a deer on our frozen pond – not a pretty site! I was never comfortable going for long walks by myself or even with the dogs after that.

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  7. When I first saw the photo, I thought this was some kind of wild hog. I have never seen/heard of javelina before, but am so enamored by your description of them. Being one with nature, JoHanna. Sounds good to me.

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  8. I liked the little creatures from the moment I saw their pictures. Your article is great reading. I keep tabs on the small creatures around me of the song bird, squirrel and chipmunk variety with an occasional Canada goose passing by. Thanks for expanding my vocabulary.

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  9. I get the feeling you have a deep respect and love for nature. I actually knew those were peccaries. I love to watch animal shows and look things up on Google frequently! I studied Reiki and feel a connection to nature and animals too.

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    1. They do look scary to many people who come across them, and their charging forward in near sighted need to get closer to actually see what they are looking at….has generated many a story from folks who say they were ‘attacked.’ I am not in any way an expert on them, but have never seen or heard of them having hurt anyone.

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