peccary

A peccary is not a pessary. (And neither has anything to do with a cassowary.) I suppose a peccary would eat pecorino and piccalilli and pickles, but only if you picked it and packed and left it out. Otherwise a peccary eats what’s available, but will prefer a prickly pear. I won’t say its diet is precarious, though its habitat is occupied.

Well. They live in a lot of places, some of them well forested still. And they can be expected in packs of up to 100. But they’re not big space hogs or food hogs. They’re not big hogs at all. They’re not big: they’re about a metre long, and they weigh 20 to 40 kilograms (much of which appears to be the head and not too much of which appears to be the prancing, spindly legs). And they’re not hogs. But, boy, do they look like them.

Here are some peccaries.

Don’t they look just like pigs? Well, they do until you inspect the dentition. Pigs have curved tusks. Peccaries have straight ones and they’re shorter. Also, they snap them together to make a sound indicating irritation at any particular peccadillo. Also, peccaries are not closely related to pigs.

They’re not! Oh, they are related. They belong to the same suborder, Suina. But they belong to a different family, Tayassuidæ (the Old World pigs are Suidæ). They came over to the New World a long, long time ago. So they’re New World pigs. They’re also called javelina in Spanish. (The name peccary comes from a Carib word.) They’re also called skunk pigs. Because they smell. They have scent glands, which they use to mark their territory and each other.

But smell notwithstanding, people still eat them. I presume they taste porky. I’m sure they’d make good paprikash or pörkölt.

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3 responses to “peccary

  1. They’re common in south Texas, where they’re known as “javelina”, Spanish for small tusk..

  2. A crackling good blog post James!

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