Javelinas are so interesting to watch and, to me, they are beautiful.
Here's a photo of a Javelina named Annabelle. She used to show up and try to join the local herd. Sadly, they always chased her off. The birds were never afraid of her, even though they usually avoid the herd.
Following is a javelina that I call "Beauty". When she was a baby she disappeared from the herd for a few days. It seemed like she'd been lost to coyotes or a bobcat. Then, she suddenly reappeared with Annabelle but she had an injured leg. A young, injured animal is easy prey for coyotes, so it seems that Annabelle had protected her and led her back to the herd. The herd returned this favor by chasing Annabelle off but they allowed Beauty to rejoin them. She continued to walk with a limp into adulthood. One day, just after it rained, the herd did what I can only describe as a dance of joy. They started running back and forth, and even in circles, just chasing each other around. I was surprised to see how fast Beauty could run. As fast as the rest of them.
Here are photos of a mother and her summer baby. Babies born during warm weather have golden brown coats. When it's cooler their coats are heavier and more of a gray color. Javelina mothers and the herd are very gentle with the offspring. If a baby is born without siblings then members of the herd will, without fail, fill in the gap by playing with the baby. Javelina "play" is little nips to invoke chasing each other around, and play fighting where they comically open their jaws wide, toss their heads from side to side, and growl at one another. Fighting seems to be an important part of their social structure and babies are encouraged to develop these skills very early.
Javelina have large jaws with very long and sharp teeth. Never get this close to one. They are wild animals and their behavior is unpredictable. This one looks cute, but when they yawn or fight they reveal tusks over 2 inches long. Because they are prey to some animals, they will always perceive any approach toward them as a threat (especially a large animal like a human). When alarmed they can move like lightning toward you or away from you, the bristles on their backs go straight up like a porcupine's, and they emit a skunk-like odor. When they are relaxed they don't really smell at all and they make pleasant little grunting noises. However, in a split second they can switch from a relaxed state to loud and vicious fighting. This is the Javelina's world and quite normal behavior for them. For safety it is best to observe them only from a distance, preferably from inside of a house. This photo was taken by slightly opening a door only to the width of a camera lens while he happened to be on the patio.
Javelinas are not really pigs but they do like to wallow in mud. I used to have a garden area that was irrigated with reclaimed water captured from the house's cooling system but Javelinas chewed open the irrigation line in a couple of areas. Then they rooted out deep ditches in the wet soil. These are now their favorite spots for cooling off during the heat of the day. They put so much work into creating their mud pits that it seems best just to leave things as they are now.
I like this picture because it captures how tough and mysterious they are. The bare spots on their knees are common to all of them:
These pictures were cropped. In the original there is garbage off to the right. They have an excellent sense of smell and are strong enough to open garbage cans very easily.
In the wintertime their coats are thicker and paler.
Javelinas usually eat plants (like prickly pear cacti) but will consume other things if the opportunity presents itself. Here is a young javelina eating a dove that had crashed into a window. The other members of the herd let him have almost the whole thing.
Javelinas can't scratch their heads with their hooves when they have an itch so instead they assume the posture shown here and then move their heads up and down. Actually, I don't really know why they perform this behavior but they do seem to enjoy it.
They like to fight a lot and are easily provoked by one another.
Spirited Javelina Babies:
Adult, Adolescent, and Babies
Learning to argue
Mother and Child
Javelinas are related to deer. They do resemble deer when they are babies.
Sun and Shade
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