Archive for the ‘Collared Peccary’ tag

javelinas   9 comments

Posted at 3:56 pm in Arizona,mammals

I haven’t posted in a couple of weeks as I’m now on the road once more. For the past eight or so days, Sabrina and I have been traveling northwards through Arizona and Utah. We’ve been camping and doing quite a bit of hiking, so have been without a net connection most of the time. Sabrina is doing so much better than on our trip southwards back in October and early November. A couple of days ago, we hiked about 3 miles over fairly rugged terrain to see some rock paintings in a river canyon in southern Utah. She managed very well.

This is my first post of the day. I may try to put up one more while within range of the internet. A few of you expressed some interest in the group of Javelina that I wrote about in early March. They were very regular visitors who passed down the lane outside the garden at the house at Bisbee. I would usually see them just a little before 6 p.m., while I was preparing dinner or washing dishes at the sink overlooking the lane. When I first arrived, there seemed to be five in the group, but then a young one appeared, and then as time went on, they numbered eight – 5 adults and 3 smaller ones. When visitors were staying with me, I’d let them know shortly before the Javelina were scheduled to appear. Just about everyone saw them at least once if not several times. At first, Sabrina would bark at them a little, but as the weeks rolled by and she saw and smelled them many times, she got so that she wouldn’t bother with them.

Just a bit of info about Javelina, but then I’ll point you to a couple of links about them. The common name for them is Collared Peccary (Tayassu tajacu), but most people in the southwest refer to them as Javelina. The “collared” part of the name refers to a light coloured strip of hair on the shoulder area. You can see it in the photos above and below (click on them for larger views). Although they look rather like pigs, they are in their own family (Tayassuidae) while true pigs are Suidae. Their teeth are quite imposing — they have long, self-sharpening canine teeth. I found a photo of a replica of a Javelina skull on this page from a company called Bone Clones. You can see the long, sharp teeth and how they have a flat edge which rubs together where the upper and lower teeth meet. Although they seem well armed, they aren’t particularly aggressive. In fact, they tend to mind their own business and go about looking for prickly pear cactus and other preferred plant items. That said, I’ve been told that they can be dangerous enough if threatened — not so much to humans, but towards dogs and also typical wild predators. Also, they can be destructive to gardens, particularly if they become too familiar with the presence of humans.

The young have red coats and are called “reds” for that reason. Newborn javelina are active soon after birth – unlike pigs which require some time to grow and become mobile. I did see a very small, young javelina in December. At that point, it was about the size of a smallish cat and had red hair. It scampered along at its mother’s heels and raced after her when she decided to flee into the long grass on the hillside next to the lane. The adult males seem to be a bit larger than females and there is something distinctly different about their appearance — they have thicker manes and a heavier front end and neck and the head looks larger. From my observations, the females are more timid, and the males a little more inclined to being confrontational. On the times when I met them in the lane outside the garden wall, it was the males that would somewhat hold their ground and toss their heads up and down or to the side in what I took to be an aggressive gesture. While this was going on, the females and young would take the opportunity to run off into the grass or head up to the shelter of the manzanita and live oaks on the mountainside. A few times, I caught the group off guard – usually by accident as I tried not to startle or confront them. On those occasions, they would flee at amazing speed – their rear hooves kicking up into the air as they tore along the lane to the mountainside. One thing they seem to spend an inordinate amount of time doing is rubbing their heads and necks on each other’s hind ends. They have scent glands somewhere around their tails, so they stand side by side, head to tail, and rub against each other to get the scent on their coats. The scent is described as being somewhat skunk-like, which is probably true as I often thought I smelled skunk in the air, but I never did see any around the house, so it must have been javelina.

For those who might be interested, my friend, Paul Williams, shot this video clip of the javelinas outside the house one evening (note: the barking dog in the background is not Sabrina). I suggested that he wait outside in a certain spot and he would probably see them pass by within a few minutes. As if on cue, the group appeared in ones and twos. As you can see from the video footage, javelinas have very poor eyesight. They can’t really see you until they are almost next to you. They depend more on scent than sight. One evening, I stood very still in the middle of the lane and it seemed as though I was invisible to them. They knew I was there and were alarmed and the male put on quite a show of trying to be fierce, but I could tell he wasn’t actually sure where I was standing. The other interesting thing is how they raise the hair along their spines to make themselves look larger. You can see this best when the smallest one races along the road in the video clip. The hair on its spine stands up like a comb, a bit like it has a mohawk cut.

For more information on Javelina, visit here and here. Also, on this page you’ll find more info about the offspring and a nice photo of a mother with its young “red”.

Note: Thanks to my friend, Paul Williams, for allowing me to use his video clip in this post.

Written by bev on March 23rd, 2009

Tagged with , ,

and so we came to bisbee   11 comments

Posted at 11:11 am in Arizona,birds,insects,loss,mammals

Sabrina looking out over the garden wall towards town at the beginning of our first day in Bisbee

Six weeks after setting out on our journey, Sabrina and I arrived in Bisbee. Before leaving eastern Ontario, I had made arrangements to rent a house on the outskirts of the town. It’s perched on the side of one of the round-topped hills in the Mule Mountains, surrounded by live oaks and manzanita. The place was ideal for us. It had a flat garden where Sabrina could roam about. In her (at that time) somewhat debilitated state, she couldn’t handle stairs or steep hills. For myself, it proved to be a peaceful place filled with interesting plants, insects, birds and mammals. Within a day of arriving, I had already shot dozens of photos of the butterflies, grasshoppers, bees, flies and other insects visiting the flowers in the garden and on the surrounding hillside.

Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae)

Although all turned out for the best, our arrival was not without some stress. On the way up the steep lane to the house, the transmission of my limping van gave out — requiring replacement of the torque converter at a cost of about Cdn $1000. However, I tried not to let such things bother me — after all I had been through over the past year, a broken down van seemed like nothing more than a mere blip on my radar screen. It was just good to be in a quiet place surrounded by nature.

Pyrrhuloxia (Cardinalis sinuatus)

Within a few days of arriving, I filled some bird feeders and soon had about 15 species of birds coming to the garden each day. The Pyrrhuloxia (Cardinalis sinuatus) are a favourite and there were two pair visiting on a steady basis. The little Anna’s Hummingbirds (Calypte anna) were our constant companions, even through a few snowy days when I would see them coming and going from their cover within an Alligator Juniper (Juniperus deppeana) just beyond the garden wall.

Javelina (Pecari tajacu) on the hillside beside the lane

Almost like clockwork, a small herd of Javelina (Pecari tajacu) wandered along the outside of the wall by the kitchen window each evening while I prepared dinner. At first there seemed to be five, but their numbers have since increased to eight as three young appeared soon after my arrival. At first, Sabrina didn’t know what to make of these strange creatures, but she has since become accustomed to seeing them trot past the yard.

If you wonder how I came to choose Bisbee as a place to rest, it was an easy decision. Don and I had always wanted to spend some time in this area after visiting once back in 2001. While enduring his series of chemo and radiation treatments, Don would often sit with my laptop, looking at possible rental properties in the southeast area of Arizona. It was our hope that, if the EGFR inhibitor drug he began in August worked, we would be able to escape to the south for at least a little while. Unfortunately, that treatment failed and he passed away in early September. However, the dream of spending the winter in Bisbee did not die — and so Sabrina and I came to be here. All in all, this has been a good place to rest for a time. It’s with some regrets that I will soon be leaving to return to eastern Ontario as we have made friends and learned to love the land here. However, we are certain to return, but more about that later. For now, I will be writing a few posts about some of the places we have hiked, and the flora, fauna and geology we have seen.

But speaking of flora and fauna and the desert, the second edition of Carnival of the Arid is now up at Chris Clarke’s Coyote Crossing Be sure to pay a visit and check out some of the wonderful writing, art, and photography.