31 Collared Peccary
DYCOTYLES TORQUATUS.--F. CUVIER. [Dicotyles tajacu] COLLARED PECCARY. PLATE XXXI. D. pilis nigro alboque annulatis; vitta albida ab humeris in latere colli utroque decurrente.
CHARACTERS. Hair, annulated with black and white; a light-coloured band extending from the sides of the neck around the shoulders, and meeting on the back. SYNONYMES. TAYTETOU, D'AZARA, Quad. du Paraguay, vol. i., p. 31. TAJACU, Buffon, vol. v., p. 272, pl. 135. SUS TAJACU, Linn., 12th ed. vol. i., p. 103. QUAVHTLA COYMATL, QUAHEROTL, Hem., Mex., 637. TAJACU, Ray, Quad., p. 97. SUS TAGASSA, Erxleben, Syst., p. 185. SUS TAGASSA, Schreber, Saugethiere, t. 325. APER AMERICANUS, Briss., Regne An., p. 3. TAJACU CAAIGOANA MARCGR, Bras., p. 229. MEXICAN HOG, Pennant, Quadr., p. 147. PORCUS MOSCHIFERUS, Klein, Quadr., p. 25. PECCARI, Shaw, Gen. Zool., vol. ii., p. 469, 224. DYCOTYLES TORQUATUS, F. Cuvier, Dict. des Sciences Naturelles, tom. ix., p. 518, DYCOTYLES TORQUATUS, Desm., Mamm., p. 393. DYCOTYLES TORQUATUS, Cuv., Regne An., vol. i., p. 237. DYCOTYLES TORQUATUS, Pr. Maxim. Beitr., vol. ii., p. 557. DYCOTYLES TORQUATUS, Harlan, Fauna, p. 220. DYCOTYLES TORQUATUS, Griffith's Animal Kingdom, sp. 740. DESCRIPTION. The form of the Collared Peccary bears a very striking resemblance to that of the common domesticated hog; it is however smaller in size, shorter, and more compact. Head, rather large; snout, long; ears, upright, and of moderate size; eyes, rather small. The cartilage on the extremity of the nose is naked, with the exception of a few bristles on the upper lip. On the upper surface of the nose, near the cartilage, there is a spot half an inch in length that is naked; nostrils, large; the upper tusks, in the living animal, protrude downward below the lower lips half an inch; the ears are on both surfaces thinly clothed with hair that is softer than that on the remainder of the body. The hairs on the head are short. From the hind part of the head along the dorsal line on the back, there are long strong bristles, which are erected when the animal is irritated. Many of these bristles are five inches in length, whilst the hairs on the other parts of the body are generally about three. On the lower part of the back, a slight distance from the rump, there is a naked glandular orifice surrounded by a few bristles in a somewhat radiated direction. From this orifice there exudes a strong scented fluid. This part of the animal has been vulgarly supposed to be its navel. The legs, which strongly resemble those of the common hog, are rather short. There is not even a vestige of the small upper external hind-toe, which is always present in the common hog. There is a ruff under the throat, protruding about three inches beyond the surrounding hairs. The under surface of the body is rather thinly clothed with hair. In place of a tail there is a mere protuberance about half an inch in length, which is rounded and like a knob. COLOUR. Eyes, dark-brown; nostrils, flesh-colour. The hairs are at their roots yellowish-white, are thrice annulated with dark-brown and yellowish-white, and are tipped with black. Head, cheeks, and sides of the neck, grayish; legs, dark-brown; a whitish band two inches broad runs from the top of the shoulder on each side toward the lower part of the neck. The long hairs on the dorsal line are so broadly tipped with black that the animal in those parts appears of a black colour; along the sides however the alternate annulations are so conspicuous that it has a deep gray or grizzled appearance. On the chest, outer surface of shoulders and thighs, it is of a darker colour than on the sides. Immediately behind the lightish collar on the shoulders the hairs are dark, rendering this collar or band more conspicuous. The young have a uniform shade of red. DIMENSIONS. Living female. Feet. Inches. Length of head and body . . . . . . . . . . . 2 10 Length of head . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0 11 Length of ear . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0 3 Height to shoulder . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 8 Length of tail . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0 0 1/2 Adult male (recent) obtained in Texas. Feet. Inches. From nose to anterior canthus . . . . . . . . . 0 5 1/2 From nose to beginning of ear . . . . . . . . . 0 9 1/4 Length of ear . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0 3 1/2 Breadth of car . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0 2 7/8 Length from snout to root of tail . . . . . . . . 3 4 Tail . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0 0 3/4 From knee to end of hoof . . . . . . . . . . . 0 5 3/4 Hind-knee to end of hoof . . . . . . . . . . . 0 7 1/4 Spread of fore-feet . . . . . . . . . . . . 0 1 3/4 Girth across the centre of body . . . . . . . . 2 5 Spread of mouth when fully extended . . . . . . . 0 5 1/2 Breadth between the eyes . . . . . . . . . . . 0 2 3/4 HABITS. The accounts that have been handed down to us of the habits of this species by old travellers, ALDROVANDA, FERNANDEZ, Mons. DE LA BORDE, MARCGRAVE, ACOSTA, and others, who furnished the information from which BUFFON, BRISSON, RAY, and LINNAEUS, drew up their descriptions of the Mexican hog, are not to be fully relied on, inasmuch as their descriptions referred to two very distinct species, the white-lipped peccary, (D. labiatus,) and the subject of the present article. Neither LINNAEUS nor his contemporaries seem to have been aware of the difference which exists between the species; and although BUFFON was informed by M. DE LA BORDE that another and larger species existed at Cayenne, he does not appear to have drawn any line of distinction between it and our animal. D'AZARA, who visited South America in 1783, (Essais sur l'Histoire Naturelle des Quadrupedes de la Province du Paraguay, Paris, 1801,) endeavoured to correct the errors into which previous writers had fallen, and gave an account of the present species, which, although somewhat unmethodical, is nevertheless of such a character that it may on the whole be relied on. He commences his article on the "taytetou," as he designates this species, by first giving correct measurements; afterwards he describes the colour of the adult and young, points out the distinctive marks which separate this species from the white-lipped peccary, which he calls "tagnicate," and then gives a tolerable account of the habits of the species now under consideration. From the accounts which travellers have given us of the Collared Peccary it appears that this species is gregarious, and associates for mutual protection in pretty large families; it is however stated by D'AZARA that the white-lipped peccary is more disposed to congregate in very large herds than our animal. Although they are usually found in the forests and prefer low and marshy grounds, like common hogs, Peccaries wander wherever they can find an abundance of food, often enter the enclosures of the planters, and commit great depreciations on the products of their fields. When attacked by the jaguar, the puma, the wolf, the dog, or the hunter, they form themselves into a circle, surrounding and protecting their young, repelling their opponents with their sharp teeth, and in this manner sometimes routing the larger predatory animals, or severely wounding the dogs and the hunters. When angry, they gnash their teeth, raise their bristles, (which at such time resemble the quills of the porcupine,) and their sharp, shrill grunt can be heard at a great distance. This species feeds on fruits, seeds, and roots; and like the domesticated hog is constantly rooting in the earth in quest of worms, insects, reptiles, or bulbous roots. It is said also to devour the eggs of alligators, turtles, and birds; and to be destructive to lizards, toads, and snakes. In fact, like the common hog it is omnivorous, feeds upon every thing that comes in its way, and is not particularly choice in the selection of its food. Mons. DE LA BORDE: (D'AZARA, Quad. du Paraguay, vol. i., p. 31,) relates that "they are easily shot; for instead of flying, they assemble together, and often give the hunters an opportunity of charging and discharging several times." He mentions "that he was one day employed, along with several others, in hunting these animals, accompanied by a single dog, which as soon as they appeared, took refuge between his master's legs. For greater safety he with the other hunters stood on a rock. They were nevertheless surrounded by the herd of bons. A constant fire was kept up, but the creatures did not retire till a great number of them were slain." "These animals, however," he remarks, "fly after they have been several times hunted. The young, when taken in the chase, are easily tamed, but they will not associate or mix with the domestic species. In their natural state of liberty they frequent the marshes, and swim across large rivers. Their flesh," says he, "has an excellent taste, but is not so tender as that of the domestic hog; it resembles the flesh of the hare, and has neither lard nor grease." The same author also states that "when pursued they take refuge in hollow trees, or in holes in the earth dug by the armadilloes. These holes they enter backwards and remain in as long as they can. But when highly irritated they instantly issue out in a body. In order to seize them as they come out, the hole is enclosed with branches of trees; one of the hunters, armed with a pitchfork, stands above the hole to fix them by the neck, while another forces them out, and kills them with a sabre." "Where there is but one in a hole, and the hunter has not leisure to seize it, he shuts up the entrance, and is sure of his game next day." All authors agree in stating that the dorsal glands of either the male or female should be cut off instantly after the animal is killed, for their retention for only a single hour gives the meat so strong an odour that it can scarcely be eaten. The only recent account we have thus far received, that contains original and authentic information about this singular wild hog, was furnished us by Mr. WILLIAM P. SMITH. He had been sent to this country by our ever kind friend, the Right Honourable the EARL OF DERBY, for the purpose of procuring living animals to enrich his collection at Knowsley, near Liverpool. We engaged him also to obtain for us any rare species he could meet with in Texas, and to send descriptions of their habits, and any other information likely to be of interest to the readers of this work. Mr. SMITH went to Texas in 1841, and shortly afterwards sent us the following account of the Peccary. He says,-- "The Mexican hogs previous to the overflowing of the bottom lands in 1833, struck terror into the hearts of the settlers in their vicinity, oftentimes pursuing the planter whilst hunting or in search of the lost track of his wandering cattle--at which time they frequently killed his dogs, or even at times forced him to ascend a tree for safety, where he would sometimes be obliged to wait until the hogs got tired of dancing attendance at the foot of his place of security, or left him to go and feed. These animals appeared quite savage, and would, after coming to the tree in which the planter had ensconsed himself, snap their teeth and run about and then lie down at the root of the tree to wait for their enemy to come down. At this early period of the settlement of Texas, (this refers to 1833,) they used to hunt this animal in company. From five to fifteen planters together, and occasionally a larger number of hunters, would join in the pursuit of these ravagers of their corn-fields, in order to diminish their number and prevent their farther depreciations, as at times they would nearly destroy a farmer's crop. Since this time, however, their number has greatly decreased, and it is now a difficult matter to find them." "On some parts of the Brazos they still exist, and in others are quite abundant." Mr. SMITH further says, "The two I send you are the only ones I have heard of since my arrival in this country. I happened, with the assistance of a person, to find out their lair, which is always in some hollow tree, although they have many sleeping places. Being late in the day I was determined not to disturb them until a more favourable time would present itself, as I was anxious, if possible, to procure them alive. Some time passed, and everything being ready, the dogs soon compelled them to make for home, when they having entered, we secured the entrance of their hole, and cut a large opening up the body of the tree, a few feet above them, from which "point of vantage" we were enabled easily to drop a noose round their necks, which we tightened until we thought they were nearly suffocated; we then drew them out, tied their legs and feet securely, and fastened their mouths by binding their jaws together with cords, and then left them lying on the ground for a time. On our return we found that they had got over the effect of the "experimental hanging" they had gone through. We put them across a horse, and in trying to get loose they so tightened the ropes and entangled them about their necks, that they died before we observed this on our way home with them. This is the usual mode of taking these animals alive, although some are caught in pits. They have a large musk-bag upon the back, from which a very disagreeable odour is emitted whilst the animal is excited; but this is not observable after they are killed. The flesh of the female is good at some seasons of the year, but that of the male is strong, coarse and disagreeable at all times. Their principal food consists of nuts of every description (mast) during winter; but in summer they feed on succulent plants, with which the bottom lands in the Brazos abound. The male measured forty inches from the tip of its nose to that of its tail; the female is shorter by two inches. The eyes are very dark hazel colour." "As soon as they get within their den, one of them, probably the oldest male, stands sentinel at the entrance. Should the hunter kill it, another immediately takes its place, and so in succession until all are killed. This animal, which in Texas is always called the wild hog, is considered the bravest animal of these forests, for it dreads neither man nor beast." The Collared Peccary is easily domesticated, and breeds readily in confinement. We saw a pair on board of a ship that arrived in Charleston from South America, the female of which had produced two young whilst on the passage; they were then several weeks old, and seemed to be in a thriving condition. Mons. M. L. E. MOREAU SAINT MERY, the translator of the work of D'AZARA, from the Spanish into the French language, states that in 1787 he saw at the residence of the Governor General LA LUZERNE, a tame Collared Peccary, which he had procured from Carthagena, with the intention of multiplying the species in San Domingo, (Note du Traducteur D'AZARA, tom. i., p. 42.) We observed at the Zoological Gardens in London, young Peccaries that had been born in the menagerie. This animal, however, is less prolific than the common domesticated hog, and its odorous glands being moreover offensive, the extensive domesticition of it would not be attended with any profit to the agriculturist. We have frequently seen the Collared Peccary in confinement. One that is at present (1846) in a menagerie in Charleston, is exceedingly gentle, taking its food from the hand, and allowing itself to be caressed even by strangers. It lies down in the manner of a pig, and next to giving it food, the greatest favour you can bestow on it is to scratch it either with the hand or a stick. It however is easily irritated. We noticed that it has a particular antipathy to the dog, and when approached by that animal immediately places itself in a defensive attitude, raising its bristles, showing its tusks, stamping its feet, and uttering a sharp cry which might be heard at the distance of seventy yards; when in a good humour, however, it occasionally utters a low grunt like a pig. It seems to suffer much from cold, and is always most lively and playful on warm days. It appears to prefer Indian-corn, potatoes, bread and fruits, but like the domestic hog evinces no unwillingness to take any kind of food that is presented to it. We remarked, however, that it is decidedly less carnivorous than the common hog. It is stated by authors that this species produces but once a year, and brings forth only two at a litter. GEOGRAPHICAL DISTRIBUTION. The Collared Peccary has a most extensive geographical range. It was seen by NUTTAL at the Red River in Arkansas, north latitude 31 degrees. Our specimens were obtained in Texas. It exists in all the lower portions of Mexico and Yucatan, and is found every where within the tropics. It is said by D'AZARA to be abundant at Paraguay, south latitude 37 degrees, thus spreading itself through an extent of sixty-eight degrees of latitude. GENERAL REMARKS. This species has been noticed by all the early travellers in South America and Mexico. They however almost invariably confounded the habits of two species. D'AZARA pointed out the distinctive marks which separate these species. They differ so much from each other that they ought never to have been mistaken. LINNAEUS applied the name Sus tajacu, but as it is impossible to ascertain which species he had in view we cannot use his name for either. RAY, ERXLEBEN, and SCHREBER applied the same name, and committed the same error. BRISSON gave the name Aper Americanus, and KLEIN that of Porcus muschiferus in the same manner, without discriminating the species. Baron CUVIER established the genus DYCOTYLES, and F. CUVIER applied the specific name of torquatus. BUFFON, who had heard from M. DE LA BORDE that there were two distinct species in Cayenne, considered them as mere varieties produced by age, but gave, as he supposed, a figure of each; his figures, however, which are of no value, both refer to the present species, and bear no resemblance to the white-lipped Peccary, (D. labiatus.) It is somewhat strange that GRIFFITH, in his "Animal Kingdom," which be states was arranged by Baron CUVIER, should have completely misunderstood D'AZARA, (Histoire Naturelle, tom. i., p. 31,) and reversed the habits of the two species, (CUVIER, Animal Kingdom, by GRIFFITH, vol. iii., p. 411,) giving D'AZARA as authority for applying the habits of the present species, Tajassu, (Dycotyles torquatus,) to those of his Tagnicati, (D. labiatus,) giving at the same time a pretty good figure of the latter. It may however be easily seen that the whole object of D'AZARA's article on this species was to correct the very error into which GRIFFITH has fallen.