When in Arizona, keep your eyes open for “skunk pigs”

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If you’re lucky when visiting Arizona you’ll see a javelina, sometimes called a “skunk pig.” They are commonly spotted in some Arizona State Parks.

But, you ask, “What the heck is a javelina?” It’s one of the most approachable wildlife species in the state’s parks. They are near-sighted, often noisy (which covers your sound on approach), and, well, they’re stinky! A scent gland emits a pungent, skunk-like odor used to identify herd members and warn them of a dangerous situation. You might smell them before actually seeing them. Approach from downwind so they don’t smell you and you will soon be within camera range for stunning close up photos! It’s best to use a telephoto lens.

These “New World” pig-like creatures are increasing their range northward every year. In Arizona they are commonly seen in desert parks like Catalina, Oracle and Lost Dutchman. They also have strong populations at Tonto Natural Bridge and Red Rock state parks.

The social animals are often found within herds averaging eight animals. It’s not uncommon to see young javelina or “reds” at any time throughout the year. A javelina weighs about 45 to 90 pounds when full grown.

But remember, get close enough for great photos, but not too close or you’ll make the animal feel uncomfortable.

If you can’t manage to spot a javelina in the wild, you’ll up your odds about 1,000 percent at the wonderful Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson.

##RVT933

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Glen Fotre
7 months ago

Javelina (Tayassu tajacu) also known as collared peccary, are medium-sized animals that look similar to a wild boar. They have mainly short coarse salt and pepper colored hair, short legs, and a pig-like nose. The hair around the neck/shoulder area is lighter in color giving it the look of a collar.

James Kane
7 months ago

As a longtime Arizona resident I have experience with javalina and I believe your advice to approach them from downwind to get a photo is very, very dangerous. Families travel in long, sometimes unattached “wagon trains” with alpha males in front, females and babies behind and more males in the rear. You might not see all members of the family and find yourself in between adults and babies, they will charge toward any unknown smell. They have razor sharp tusks that can tear you up quickly. Give them plenty of room.

Barz
7 months ago

Just can’t see hunting and killing them. It’s a one-sided affair.

Tommy Molnar
7 months ago
Reply to  Barz

I hear they’re ‘good eatin’. That’s why they hunt them.

Dean Yoesting
7 months ago

We live in southern AZ and see Javelina often. In fact they visit our yard frequently. We have had as many as 22 in our yard at one time, including 4 generations, based on size. They visit our 2 Live Oak trees and my wife calls that area Live Oak Cafe. They like the acorns from the oak tree.

Steve
7 months ago

Had property in the Big Bend of West Texas and there was a herd that roamed around the area. We had cats for critter control and they were never bothered. I walked the property daily and one day heard stomping and huffing, large javalina real close and saw the herd heading away with several babies being scurried along; protective papa! They do warn like other creatures. You just need to pay attention and heed that warning!

Joe Goldstein
7 months ago

One thing the article didn’t mention is that they’ll attack dogs, even if you’re carrying them. They may be almost blind, but their sense of smell is very good, and if they have babies in their pack, they will feel threatened if they smell another animal. So, be aware. If you see (or smell) a pack of javelinas, get your animal inside.

Leslie R Murray
7 months ago
Reply to  Joe Goldstein

They will also attack people, I have the bite marks to prove it.

Jeff
7 months ago

We had them in Tucson, AZ too. They roamed around the RV Park looking for food or Trash that people leave outside.

And they really do stink like a Skunk smell. I’m guessing here, but its probably for their own defense in the wild. Not meant to be house pets!

paul
7 months ago

I’m sorry,but what you say that they weight up to 90# is wrong.The last time i heard the state record for a Javelina was 63#. I have hunted them for 55 yrs. and the largest one weighted 41#s.But one thing you got right is they do smell like skunks!

Admin
RV Staff (@rvstaff)
7 months ago
Reply to  paul

Thank you for the info, Paul. I’ve just looked it up, being curious, and the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum says they can weigh between 35 and 55 pounds. But Wikipedia says they usually weigh between 44 and 88 pounds — so that’s probably where Chuck got the information for the article. The largest type appears to be the Chacoan peccary, found in South America. Lincoln Park Zoo says they can get up to 95 lbs. The ones found in Arizona (and Central and South America) are the collared peccary (about 45 lbs.), and the white-lipped peccary (about 49 lbs.) are found in Central ad South America. Dang! We learn all types of stuff here at RVtravel.com! 😀 —Diane at RVtravel.com

Tommy Molnar
7 months ago
Reply to  paul

When I was in the navy (back in the 60’s), one of my shipmates was from Phoenix and talked about his javelina hunts all the time. Not a word about how bad they smelled.