If you’ve seen javelina for the first time or had a close encounter with one, you might be worried about whether you were in danger. Things could be even more troubling if you saw one near your garden or around your pets.
Many people wonder what dangers javelinas pose and if there are any health risks associated with these hoofed mammals. So are they small and harmless, or are javelinas dangerous?
While they usually cause only minor problems for people by surprising them or destroying their gardens, javelinas can be extremely dangerous and inflict serious or even fatal wounds on pets and humans.
When a javelina loses its fear of humans, it can eventually become very dangerous.
There have been more than a few cases of javelinas showing their bad side and hurting people and their pets. These animals are fearless and tough, and some encounters might result in death.
Javelinas are also known as peccary and skunk pig; in this article, these terms will refer to the same thing.
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Do Javelinas Attack Humans?
Javelinas are shy creatures that can be safely observed from a distance. Although attacks on humans are very rare, if they feel threatened, javelinas might cause serious damage.
These animals are very strong and have extremely sharp tusks, so catching javelinas by surprise or cornering them can be extremely dangerous for you.
Javelinas are social animals that usually travel in groups of 6 to 9 animals; sometimes even larger.
When cornered, if they hear or smell a dog, or to protect their young, javelinas might react defensively and charge, clack their teeth, or make a barking, growling sound.
In case you encounter one, try to see if the animal is really trying to attack you.
Javelinas have poor eyesight and in some cases, it might seem that it is charging at you, while in fact, the animal is trying to run away from you.
Javelinas pose another huge danger to humans because they might be infected with rabies, distemper, or salmonella. Getting in contact with infected javelina can pose a serious health concern. These viruses spread to people from the saliva of infected animals and can result in death.
Typically, there may be one or two recorded javelina bites in Arizona every year with only two documented cases of rabies in these animals.
Can A Javelina Kill You?
Yes, javelinas can kill you. There have been cases where javelinas killed humans; either a group of animals attacked or a single animal reacted defensively while being hunted. Although rare, javelina encounters can result in death.
In 2019 a woman was found dead with multiple injuries from animals that are suspected to be javelinas.
According to a study by John J. Mayer from the Savannah River National Laboratory, from 1825 until 2012, there have been only four fatal attacks in the US by wild pigs (including javelinas). Three of those were from animals that were wounded while being hunted.
Most of the mauled victims had injuries to only one part of their bodies, with legs/feet being the most frequent body part injured by peccaries. Fatalities were the result of blood loss.
Do Javelinas Attack Dogs And Cats?
Besides humans, there have been several cases of javelinas attacking pets like dogs and cats.
Javelinas have poor eyesight but a very strong smell. If they hear or smell a dog, javelinas might attack it. Javelinas hate dogs and if feeling threatened, they might become vicious to your furry pet.
There have been numerous reports of groups of javelinas attacking dogs and severely injuring them.
That’s why, if you live in rural and semi-urban areas where these animals can be found, be careful when walking your dog. If you see javelinas walking toward you, move away and quickly take your dog in a different direction.
If your pet is attacked by or comes into contact with a javelina, always seek medical attention for the animal immediately. As mentioned, javelinas can carry diseases like rabies and distemper, which can be passed on to your pet as well.
When it comes to cats, there haven’t been too many reported cases of javelina attacks. This is mostly because people keep their pet cats inside.
However, javelinas are prey to mountain lions (pumas), large cats native to the Americas. Given the animosity they have for these cats, it is possible that some javelinas will attack even a pet cat if they catch its smell or encounter it in person.
Either way, avoid feeding your pets outside, as the smell of food might attract javelinas.
Do Javelinas Bite?
Yes, javelinas can bite. Because of their fierce nature, tenacious behavior, and two-inch-long canine teeth, javelinas can do serious damage. Their teeth are well-developed for cutting and slashing and are their main offensive weapon.
Two species of javelinas, the white-lipped peccary and the collared peccary (the smallest species of javelinas) have very strong jaws. Scientists calculated that the white-lipped peccaries seem to have a bite strength about 1.3 times greater than that of the smaller collared peccary as it consumes harder seeds that the collared peccary can not crack.
One study from 2021 calculated that the bite force of collared peccaries is around 2,900 N, while the mean bite force of white-lipped peccaries is around 3,300 N.
Converted to PSI (pounds per square inch), collared peccaries have a bite force of 4,200 PSI, while the white-lipped peccaries have a bite force of 4,786 PSI.
Javelinas might occasionally bite humans, but most of these injuries occur when people try to feed these animals. Since they are small animals, they will bite the legs and feet.
Are Javelinas Aggressive?
Generally, javelinas are not aggressive animals and will almost always retreat if they see a person. However, in certain situations, javelinas can be very aggressive. They are known to become aggressive and charge to defend themselves when surprised or scared, using their tusks to inflict damage.
In 2016, a woman walking her dog got brutally attacked by a group of javelinas. The animals crossed the road and charged them, knocking the woman to the ground and tearing her neck and upper body with their teeth.
It was later discovered that the neighborhood the woman lived in was doing what they shouldn’t be doing – they were feeding javelinas which could account for their aggressive behaviors.
The white-lipped peccary is widely considered the most dangerous and aggressive species of peccary. There are some reports of them killing animals like jaguars when trying to defend themselves.
Javelinas are also known to resort to animal mobbing, where several individuals distract or harass a predator until it either ends its pursuit or leaves the area.
What To Do If You Encounter Javelinas?
Occasionally, javelinas might become an annoyance to landowners if these animals get access to food sources such as wildlife feeders, garbage, pet food, fruit trees, and certain flowering plants. Javelinas might destroy your garden in pursuit of food or water source.
The best way to protect your garden from javelinas is to keep all of these foods away from these animals or to put up a wire or electric fence.
In case you encounter a javelina in person, try to scare it away by making loud noises (bang pots, yell, stomp on the floor, etc.) and throw rocks at it.
You can also try to spray them with vinegar or with water from a garden hose.
Some recommend using ammonia in very low doses as it might cause nasal irritation in javelina, forcing it to leave. Be careful with this, as ammonia might cause eye damage to the animal, even at small doses, and should not be used around wetlands because it is toxic to fish and amphibians.
Also, always remember not to feed these animals.
Conclusion – How Dangerous Are Javelinas?
Unlike boars, which tend to be reclusive, javelinas can be aggressive in suburban areas when they live near humans. They travel in bands of two dozen animals and have sharp canine teeth that can be very dangerous to humans and their pets. Although rare, some encounters might end up fatally.
That’s why the best is to stay away from these animals, avoid feeding them and set up electric fences around the areas javelinas live in.
If you were pondering on the question “are javelinas dangerous”, we hope this article removed all doubts.
And if you enjoyed this article, here’s a recommendation on another very popular javelina read: Are Javelinas Considered Rodents Or Pigs?