Pecari tajacu or Tayassu
Though some people think javelina are a
type of wild pig, they are actually members of the
peccary family, a group of hoofed mammals originating
America. Javelina are common in much of central and southern Arizona, including
the outskirts of the Phoenix area, most of Tucson, and occasionally as far
north as Flagstaff. Javelina form herds of two to
more than 20 animals and rely on
each other to defend territory, protect against predators, regulate temperature
and interact socially. They use washes and areas with dense vegetation as travel
corridors. Javelina are most active at night, but they may be active during the
day when it is cold.
Description and Habits
- Peppered black, gray and
brown hair with a faint white collar around
- 40-60 pounds
- Approximately 19 inches
- Young born year-round,
most often from November to March
- Average litter of two
- Newborns up to three months
old are red-brown or tan and are called “reds”
- Live an average of
- Very poor eyesight, may
appear to be charging when actually trying
- Keen sense of smell
- Will roll in water and
mud to cool off
- Scent gland on back; animals
from the same herd stand side-by-side and
rub each other’s scent glands with
their heads; use scents to identify animals
from different herds
- Need a water source for
- Eat primarily plants,
including cacti, succulent plants, bulbs,
tubers, beans and seeds; sometimes eat insects,
garbage and grubs
with Humans and Pets
Javelina will likely visit occasionally if you
live in a semi-urban area near a wash or other
natural desert. Javelina usually cause only minor
problems for people by surprising them or eating
a few plants. However, people should NEVER
feed javelina. This can cause them to become regular visitors
and lose their fear of people, creating problems
for the neighborhood and often leading to the death
of the javelina. Javelina occasionally bite humans,
but incidents of bites are almost always associated with people providing the
javelina with food. Javelina can inflict a serious
wound. Defensive javelina behavior may include
charging, teeth clacking, or a barking, growling
sound. Javelina may act defensively when cornered,
to protect their young, or when they hear or smell
a dog. Dogs and coyotes are natural predators of
javelina, and they can seriously hurt or kill each
other. Javelina around your home may also inadvertently
attract mountain lions, because mountain lions prey on javelina.
What Attracts Them?
Javelina usually visit
homes to find food, water or shelter.
- Food for javelina can include lush vegetation
and many flowers and succulent plants that
people place around their homes. Birdseed,
table scraps and garbage can also attract javelina.
- Water can be provided through chewing on
an irrigation hose or by drinking from a pool
or other water source around a home. Javelina
will also dig and roll in moist soil during
summer days to keep cool.
- Shelter can take the form of a porch, an
area under a mobile home, a crawlspace beneath
a house, or any other cave-like area. Javelina
will seek shade during summer days and warmth
during the winter, if these areas are not properly
If javelina have become a problem or have caused property damage, see the suggestions below to deal with the situation. Do your part to keep javelina healthy and wild because their removal almost always means death. Work with your neighbors to achieve a consistent solution to the problem.
To discourage a
- Scare off animals by making loud noises (bang pots, yell, stomp on the floor, etc.); throwing small rocks in their direction; or spraying with vinegar, water from a garden hose, or large squirt gun filled with diluted household ammonia (1 part ammonia and 9 parts water). The odor of the ammonia and the nasal irritation it causes will encourage the javelina to leave. Avoid spraying ammonia in the eyes as it may cause damage even at this low concentration. Ammonia should not be used around wetlands because it is toxic to fish and amphibians.
- If the animal is confined,
open a gate, have all people leave the area,
and allow it to leave on its own. If it is
still there the following day, contact a wildlife
control business or
the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
- If you see javelina while
walking your dog, avoid going near the javelina
and quickly take your dog in a different
In an emergency:
If a javelina is acting in an aggressive manner toward people, is contained and cannot leave on its own or be let out easily, or is in human possession, please call your local Arizona Game and Fish Department regional office during weekday business hours. After hours and weekends, call the Arizona Game and Fish Department radio dispatcher at (623) 236-7201.
Remember, removal is usually a last resort:
Removal usually results in the death of the javelina.
In some cases, the javelina cannot be moved to a
different location because it may have a disease
or attacked a person. Research shows that most javelina
do not survive a move to a different area due
to inability to find food, water and shelter; being
separated from the herd; being killed by a car,
predator or other javelina while defending its territory;
or reaction to the capture. When property damage
from javelina is severe and/or repetitive, and the possible attractants
have been removed and other measures have been
attempted and failed to resolve the problem, the
Arizona Game and Fish Department may determine that
a javelina should be removed from an area. Also,
control businesses are authorized to use repellents
to deter javelina.
To prevent further
- Don't feed javelina!
- Feed pets inside or only what they can eat
at one time. Don’t allow birdseed
to fall to the ground and/or fence any bird
feeding areas. Store birdseed, livestock feed,
rodent bait and pet food inside. Do not leave
quail blocks where javelina can access them.
Pick up fallen fruit and nuts as quickly as
- Keep water sources above the reach of javelina
or behind strong fencing.
- Contain garbage and compost. Secure garbage
cans with locking lids or by attaching to a
fence or wall. Put garbage cans at the curb
on the morning of pickup rather than the night
before. Clean out cans with a bleach solution
to reduce attractive odors.
- Landscape with plants that javelina do not
want to eat. Their favorite plants are cacti, succulents,
bulbs and tubers, and any plants that drops
fruit or nuts. They will generally eat most
tender, new plants. Javelina resistant plants [PDF,
- Keep dogs on a leash and/or inside a fenced
yard to prevent defensive attacks.
- Use fencing to deny javelina access. Electric
fencing is the most effective around gardens;
try a single strand approximately 8-10 inches
above ground level. It is fairly inexpensive
and can be obtained at farm and ranch supply
stores. Check local ordinances before installing
- Use block walls or chain link fencing (4
feet tall) around the entire yard. Patch up
defective fences and gates. Use a concrete
footer buried 8-12 inches into the ground or
electric fencing to prevent digging under.
Check local ordinances before installing electric
- Use block or solid skirting for mobile homes,
decks and trailers, or use electric fencing
for a temporary fix. Block entrance holes to
any crawlspaces after the javelina have left.
(Spread flour on the ground at the entrance
to check for footprints.)
- Look for products
that can be used as helpful animal deterrents.
Possible Health Concerns
- Javelina can catch rabies, although they do
not generally carry it without symptoms. Symptoms
of rabies can include foaming at the mouth;
erratic, hyperactive behavior; and/or fearful,
paralyzed and lethargic behavior. If you see any
animal with rabies symptoms, call 911 or your
Arizona Game and Fish Department office right
Anyone bitten by a javelina must immediately
seek medical attention from a qualified health
care provider. Whenever possible, the animal
should be captured or killed and sent to a
laboratory for rabies testing.
Distemper - Javelina are known to catch distemper,
which can be transmitted to pets.
is a viral disease that consists of fever,
loss of appetite, coughing, and eye and nose
Salmonella or other bacteria that commonly cause
food poisoning sometimes take a toll on javelina
herds. Symptoms include diarrhea, inability to walk,
staying close to a water source, and death.
Laws and Policies
- The department will sometimes remove javelina
that are causing extensive property damage
or have become aggressive toward humans.
However, this is a last resort, and measures
must be taken to remove attractants to prevent
problems from recurring.
- Javelina are classified as a big game species.
It is unlawful to injure or kill game animals,
even if they are causing a problem, unless certain
rigorous provisions under the law have been
met. See Arizona Game and Fish Department Hunting
- It is unlawful to trap javelina.
- State law prohibits firing a gun within
a quarter-mile of an occupied residence or
building without the permission of the owner.
- Check your local city ordinances, but most
cities ban shooting firearms within city
limits. Some cities ban the use of slingshots,
BB guns, air guns, or bows.
- Refer to ARS-17-239 on wildlife depredation
and Arizona Game and Fish Department Hunting
Regulations for more information.