peccary

peccary
/pek"euh ree/, n., pl. peccaries, (esp. collectively) peccary.
any of several piglike hoofed mammals of the genus Tayassu, of North and South America, as T. tajacu (collared peccary, or javelina), having a dark gray coat with a white collar.
[1605-15; < Carib]

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Any of three species (family Tayassuidae) of New World even-toed ungulates resembling pigs.

Found in deserts and wet tropical forests from Texas to Patagonia, peccaries are gray with white markings and have small, erect ears and almost no tail. They grow to 30–35 in. (75–90 cm) long and weigh 37–66 lb (17–30 kg). A scent gland that opens on the back and emits a strong, musky odour inspired the belief that peccaries have two navels. Peccaries have spearlike upper canines and eat plants, small animals, and carrion. They live in groups of 5–25 or 50–100, depending on the species.

Collared peccary (Tayassu tajacu).

Jen and Des Bartlett
Bruce Coleman Inc.

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mammal
also called  javelin , or  javelina 
 any of the three species of piglike mammal found in the southern deserts of the United States southward through the Amazon Basin to Patagonian South America (see Patagonia). Closely resembling the wild pig (see boar), the peccary has dark, coarse hair and a large head with a circular snout. The ears are small, as is the tail, which is generally not visible. Its spearlike canine teeth give the peccary its other common names, javelin and javelina. These teeth do not protrude but make notable lumps in the lips.

      Peccaries are the New World counterparts of swine (family Suidae) and differ from true pigs (pig) in certain skeletal and dental features. They also have a scent gland under the skin that opens on the ridge of the back and gives off a strong, musky odour; this gland is the reason for the mistaken belief that peccaries have two navels, one above and one below. Peccaries are omnivorous, feeding on a variety of plants, small animals, and carrion. They have a barking alarm call and when disturbed make a rattling sound by chattering their teeth. Although ferocious when harassed, they are sometimes tamed by South American Indians. Peccaries are also hunted for their hides and meat. Litters usually consist of two young, born after a five-month gestation period.

      There are three species. The collared peccary (Tayassu tajacu) is the smallest and the most common, living throughout the entire tayassuid range in a variety of habitats. Distinguished by a pale stripe around the neck, collared peccaries are less than a metre (three feet) long and weigh between 17 and 30 kg (37 and 66 pounds). They live in a variety of habitats, generally roving during the day in herds of about a dozen, although larger and smaller groups are also common.

      The white-lipped peccary (T. pecari) is slightly darker and larger, weighing 25–40 kg (55–88 pounds). Named for the white area around the mouth, its range is limited to Central and South America, where forest and scrub are the primary habitats. These peccaries live in herds of 50 to over 300 and are more severely impacted by habitat destruction.

      The Chacoan peccary (Catagonus wagneri) is the largest, weighing over 40 kg. It is also the least common, living only in the dry Chacoan region of South America (see Gran Chaco). About 5,000 are estimated to remain and were thought to be extinct by the scientific community until 1972. These endangered peccaries usually form small herds of seven animals or less. The population has been affected by both hunting and the clearing of its habitat for cattle pastures, causing concern about the species' long-term survival.

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Universalium. 2010.

Synonyms:
, (Dicotyles torquatus)


Look at other dictionaries:

  • Peccary — Pec ca*ry, n.; pl. {Peccaries}. [From the native South American name: cf. F. p[ e]cari, Sp. pecar.] (Zo[ o]l.) A pachyderm of the genus {Dicotyles}. [1913 Webster] Note: The collared peccary, or tajacu ({Dicotyles torquatus}), is about the size… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • peccary — [pek′ə rē] n. pl. peccaries or peccary [AmSp pecari < Carib pakira] any of a family (Tayassuidae) of piglike, artiodactylous mammals of North and South America, with a musk gland, sharp tusks, and porklike flesh …   English World dictionary

  • peccary — pig like animal of S.America, 1610s, from Carib (Guiana or Venezuela) pakira, paquira …   Etymology dictionary

  • peccary — ► NOUN (pl. peccaries) ▪ a gregarious piglike mammal found from the south western US to Paraguay. ORIGIN Carib …   English terms dictionary

  • Peccary — Peccaries Temporal range: Late Eocene–Recent …   Wikipedia

  • peccary — /ˈpɛkəri/ (say pekuhree) noun (plural peccaries or, especially collectively, peccary) any of various species of gregarious, pig like ungulates, of the family Tayassuidae, found in south western USA to central Argentina, as the collared peccary,… …   Australian-English dictionary

  • peccary — noun (plural ries) Etymology: of Cariban origin; akin to Suriname Carib paki:ra peccary Date: 1697 any of several largely nocturnal gregarious American mammals resembling the related pigs: as a. a grizzled animal (Tayassu tajacu) with an… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • peccary — pec•ca•ry [[t]ˈpɛk ə ri[/t]] n. pl. ries, (esp. collectively) ry. mam either of two piglike mammals constituting the New World family Tayassuidae, esp. Tayassu tajacu (collared peccary or javelina) having a dark gray coat with a white collar. •… …   From formal English to slang

  • peccary — noun A family (Tayassuidae) of mammals from the Americas related to pigs and hippos Syn: javelina …   Wiktionary

  • peccary — pec|ca|ry [ˈpekəri] n plural peccaries [Date: 1600 1700; : Carib; Origin: pakira] a wild animal like a pig that lives in Central and South America …   Dictionary of contemporary English

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