Often called pigs but belonging to a completely different family, peccaries exist only in the Americas. In North America they range from the southwestern United States all the way through most of Mexico and down through Panama. They belong to the order Artiodactyla, the hoofed mammals with an even number of toes. Peccaries are small to medium-sized animals with a superficial resemblance to pigs. They have a stout body; long, slender legs, small hoofs and a long, pointed head ending in a small, disk-like snout. The coat is dense, coarse and bristly. There is a conspicuous scent gland on the rump about six inches (15 cm) ahead of the tail. There are four toes on the front feet, of which the middle two are well-developed and support the body weight, while the two small lateral toes (the so-called false hoofs or dewclaws) do not usually touch the ground. The hind feet have two functional toes, plus the collared and white-lipped peccaries have a vestigial toe located centrally on the back of the foot (this toe is absent in the Chaco peccary of South America) The last bone of each toe is encased by a thickened, hard-edged hoof of keratinous material. The stomach is two-chambered and non-ruminating, but more complex than that of pigs. There is no gallbladder. All peccaries have 38 teeth in a format that differs from that of any pig. The upper canine teeth form short, sharp tusks that are directed downward (unlike those of Old World pigs, which grow outward and upward), and maintain a sharp edge by rubbing against the lower canines. Thus, peccaries bite instead of slash.
While peccaries today occur only in the New World, fossils show they once lived in Eurasia. There are three species of peccaries. The Chaco occurs only in South America. The other two species are found in both North America and South America. The collared peccary or javelina occurs in the US Southwest and southward through Panama. The white-lipped overlaps with the javelina from southeast Mexico through Panama.
See the listings below and follow the links for more information on each species and for information on hunting techniques and what to expect when pursuing this quarry.
Collard Peccary (Javelina)