Peccary, a hoglike animal found from the southern United States to South America. The peccary is related to the domestic hog but differs in a number of ways. The peccary is smaller, has a more bristly coat, and has one less toe on each hind foot. Its tusks are straight and point downward. It has a two-chambered stomach, similar to that of a cow. Like the hog, it has poor vision and a keen sense of smell. It uses its upturned snout to dig up roots, tubers, and worms. It also feeds on berries, beans, and small animals. Peccaries live in herds of 5 to 200 animals. Each herd has its own territory and marks the boundaries with musk secreted by a scent gland above the tail. When one peccary is attacked, the whole herd charges the attacker. They are able to drive off a mountain lion or a bobcat.
The collared peccary, also called javelina and musk hog, is found in semiarid regions from the southwestern United States to southern Argentina. It is dark gray with a white or light gray ring around the neck. It is about 3 feet (90 cm) long and 18 inches (45 cm) tall at the shoulder, and weighs about 50 pounds (23 kg). It lives in herds of 5 to 15 animals. It is hunted for its hide and meat.
The white-lipped peccary is found in deserts and dense woods from southern Mexico to northern Argentina. It is dark reddish brown with white around its mouth. It lives in herds of 100 to 200 animals. The Chaco, or giant, peccary is found in rain forests in Bolivia, Paraguay, and northern Argentina. It is the largest species, often reaching 82 pounds (37 kg). Due to clearing of its range for farming, it is an endangered species.
The collared peccary is Tayassu tajacu; white-lipped, T. pecari; Chaco, Catagonus wagneri. Peccaries make up the family Tayassuidae.