Meet the Javelina, a Rare Tusked Boar-Like Creature That Even Cougars Are Wary Of

Written by Sharon Parry
Updated: October 22, 2023
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Key Points:

  • Javelinas are mistaken for pigs or boars but they are actually collared peccaries famous for their ability to eat spiky fruit like cactus and prickly pears.
  • They love prickly pear so much that they often fight over it.
  • Javelinas stick together when predators threaten their herd and are able to fight off animals like cougars and coyotes.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that javelinas are just a slimmer version of a domestic pig. They are very different. As this extensive footage shows, these are swine with attitude. Watch the fascinating video of how they behave.

Watch the Fascinating Footage Below!

What Exactly Are Javelinas?

The impressive creatures in this clip are collared peccaries called javelinas or musk hogs. Whilst they are often mistaken for wild pigs or boars, they are entirely different animals. Javelinas can grow up to 60 pounds and live for 10 years. They live in distributions ranging from northern Argentina and Brazil down to Mexico and the southwestern parts of the US. You can spot them in Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico to name just a few states. They are also found on the Caribbean islands of Trinidad and Tobago. In terms of habitat, they like a range of environments including tropical rainforests, grasslands, shrublands, and deserts where prickly pear cacti grow. They are also in some human settlements!


Javelinas are also called musk hogs.

©Dennis W Donohue/

What Do Javelinas Normally Eat?

Javelinas have a stomach with three chambers allowing them to efficiently digest fibrous vegetation. For many populations, cacti are an important food source. Javelinas have an efficient method of removing the sharp spines with their snout. It takes a tough animal to tackle a spiny cactus! Their favorite snack is a prickly pear, and they can frequently be seen coming to blows over a particularly tasty fruit.

Collared peccary (Pecari tajacu) with its baby.

Javelinas love prickly pears so much that they often fight over them.

©Vladimir Wrangel/

Do Javelinas Often Fight?

Yes, these guys seem to be very irritable! Fights frequently break out, using their large and straight canines to attack each other. While most fights are short and do not result in serious injury, they sometimes fight to the death. As with many other species, competition for food is a frequent trigger for confrontations.

Javelinas can get into fights over food or territory.

©Dennis W Donohue/

Musk hogs are social animals and live in herds of between five and 15 individuals although some herds are as large as 50. Within the herd, there is a hierarchy led by a dominant male and they are willing to defend their territory aggressively. These guys are intelligent and there is evidence that they even grieve when a member of the herd dies. They are certainly willing to back each other up when a predator appears. In this clip, we see them chasing off bobcats and coyotes, and even a large cougar backs off when faced with an entire herd!

Is it Normal for Javelinas to Attack Cougars?

Mountain lion on a rock

Cougars prey on individual javelinas but seldom take on a group.

©Holly Kuchera/

In the video, we see javelinas living many aspects of their lives and displaying amazing tenacity and courage when facing predators. A group of javelinas faces off against a cougar in one scene – clearly showing that one big cat doesn’t have a chance against a wall of protective javelinas! Is it normal for these feisty animals to challenge such a fierce foe? Yes, it is!

Javelinas are notorious for their ferocity – but some of this aggression may be attributed to their poor eyesight. While their sense of smell is off the charts – they can’t see very well. Their strategy is to go after any threat with full force – biting, shoving, screaming – anything they can do to protect themselves and their group. Many dogs have been seriously injured or killed when trying to guard their territories against javelina. Cougars have surely suffered as much when going against a javelina family group. One javelina would be doable – but an angry family in defense mode would be too much for one big cat to handle!

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Dennis W Donohue/

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About the Author

Dr Sharon Parry is a writer at A-Z animals where her primary focus is on dogs, animal behavior, and research. Sharon holds a PhD from Leeds University, UK which she earned in 1998 and has been working as a science writer for the last 15 years. A resident of Wales, UK, Sharon loves taking care of her spaniel named Dexter and hiking around coastlines and mountains.

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