By: Art Leatherwood

Type: General Entry

Published: 1952

Updated: September 1, 1995

The javelina, or collared peccary, currently known as either Tayassu tajacu or Dicotyles tajacu, is about three feet long and dark grey in color with a white band around its throat. It weighs about fifty-five pounds and was once thought to be a pig. Students of classification today are certain that it does not belong to the same family as the domestic hog or the wild boar. Having only one dew claw on the hind foot, and with two of its four teats functional it is excluded from the swine family. It is instead thought to be a distant relative of the South American tapir. The animal is omnivorous and will eat almost anything available. Its most favored food is the prickly pear cactus, which provides almost half of its diet and fulfills almost all of its water requirements. The diet is supplemented by green forbs, vines, and grasses. The range of the Texas javelina extends east from the New Mexico border in Culberson County to Coke County, then southeast to Refugio County, south to the Rio Grande, excluding most of Cameron County, and back up the Rio Grande to Culberson County. This range is considerably smaller than its original territory. It is maintaining stable populations over most of the Edwards Plateau, South Texas, and the Trans-Pecos. Javelinas live in small family groups and seldom range more than one mile. It is considered a game animal in most counties within its range. Mature animals make impressive trophies. It was once thought to be dangerous to humans and, with its large canine teeth, it is capable of inflicting serious wounds, but it will almost always retreat unless cornered. Javelinas are extremely nearsighted and will scatter when one of the herd sounds an alarm. They become extremely aggressive toward any dog. Javelinas do have some habits that might be harmful to livestock ranges, but they are valuable in the control of prickly pear. They compete very little with cattle and are assets to land owners because of the increasing interest of hunters.

J. E. Ellisor, "Learn about Javelina," Texas Parks and Wildlife, June 1974.

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Art Leatherwood, “Javelina,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 01, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/javelina.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

September 1, 1995