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