The Scouting Guide to Tracking by The Boy Scouts of America

The Scouting Guide to Tracking by The Boy Scouts of America

Author:The Boy Scouts of America
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 9781510737761
Publisher: Skyhorse
Published: 2019-03-13T16:00:00+00:00

Protective mothers, female javelina with young travel in small family herds called sounders. Courtesy of Arizona Game and Fish.

After a four-month gestation period, two to four piglets are born, with twins being the norm, and larger litters usually the result of an exceptionally well-fed mother. In contrast to most other social species that are predominantly female, the ratio between genders is approximately equal.

Pregnant females withdraw from the herd just prior to giving birth, seeking out a protected cave or other sheltered location in which to have their litters. If they don’t retreat from the group they run the risk of having their young killed and possibly eaten by other herd members, especially if food is scarce. However, the risk of cannibalism is of short duration, and after one day the mother rejoins her herd, where she provides such fierce protection for her offspring that other group members leave them alone.

Peccary young are a yellowish-brown color with a black stripe down the back. They follow their mother everywhere, but are sometimes nursed by older sisters from a previous litter, the only other herd members that are allowed near the suckling piglets. Female peccaries have four nipples, but only the rear pair produce milk, forcing the mother to nurse from a standing position, and the piglets to suckle from behind her, rather than from the side as with true swine. Piglets begin to feed on vegetation within a week of being born, but are not completely weaned until they reach two to three months of age.


Collared peccaries live in herds of five to fifteen individuals of all ages and both genders. Herds are cohesive, with members eating, sleeping, and foraging together, but there is a definite hierarchy in which a dominant male leads and the remainder are ranked primarily by size. Exceptions are the old, the terminally ill, and those seriously injured, all of which withdraw voluntarily from the group, possibly to avoid being killed and eaten by other herd members.

Although peccary herds avoid contact with groups or individuals outside their own, and will defend their territories against intruders, feeding subgroups are often formed within the same herd. These subgroups of males, females, and young sometimes form the nucleus of a new group, which breaks off from the parent herd to establish its own territory.

Peccary group territories range in size depending on herd numbers and the availability of food and other resources. Territorial boundaries are claimed by the herd leader, which rubs oily fluid from the musk gland on its rump against rocks, trees, and other prominent landmarks. Scats are also used to mark territorial boundaries, especially at trail intersections, and these will be refreshed periodically. When herd members meet one another after having been apart, they rub one another head-to-rump, each scenting the other with its own scent, thus verifying that both are members of the same group.

Herd members of either gender actively defend their territories against strangers. First comes a warning that includes laying back the ears, raising hair along the spine (hackles), and involuntary release of musk from the precaudal (rump) gland.


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