White-lipped Peccary and Collared Peccary
This online review is updated and revised continuously, as soon as results of
new scientific research become available. It therefore presents
state-of-the-art information on the topic it covers.
peccaries and pigs resemble each other, their classification and distribution
are different. Peccaries belong to the mammal family Tayassuidae (3
species) and are native to the New World, while pigs belong to the family
Suiidae (16 species) and are native to the Old World (Taber et al. 2011).
report, we review the ecology of the two most widespread peccary species (i.e.
Collared Peccary Pecari tajacu and White-lipped Peccary Tayassu
pecari), focusing on differences between them when they are sympatric (i.e.
occur in the same area).
ecology and behavior of peccaries
The Collared Peccary ranges from southwestern United States (Texas, New Mexico,
Arizona) south to northern Argentina. Throughout its range, the Collared Peccary occurs in a wide
variety of habitats, including deserts, thorn forests, chaco, caatinga, oak
woodlands, and tropical rain forests.
from southern Veracruz and Oaxaca, Mexico, south to Uruguay and Northern
Argentina. In the northern part of its range (e.g. Mexico and Central
America) it is restricted to humid tropical forests, but in South America it
occurs in both humid and dry habitats including tropical rain forest, tropical
thorn forest, chaco scrub, and caatinga.
Collared Peccaries are therefore sympatric in much of South America and in the
humid tropical forests of Mexico and Central America. A third species of
peccary occurs with these two species in the Gran Chaco of Paraguay and adjacent parts
of Bolivia and Argentina. This third species, the Chacoan Peccary (Catagonus
wagneri), is an endangered species and will be the subject of a separate
peccaries and Collared Peccaries differ from each other in many ways.
Although all peccary species are highly social, the White-lipped Peccary
typically lives in larger herds than the collared peccary. For example, in
tropical rain forests, Emmons (1997) reports that White-lipped Peccaries usually
occur in herds of 50 to 300 or more individuals, while Collared Peccaries
usually occur in herds of 6 to 9 individuals. However, larger
aggregations of Collared Peccaries can sometimes be seen, for example when more than one
herd is attracted to a rich food source (Robinson and Eisenberg 1985).
Peccary herds range over great areas and do not seem to be
territorial, while Collared Peccary herds have smaller home ranges and defend
territories (Sowls 1997). Kiltie and Terborgh (1983) point out that the
large, nomadic herds of the White-lipped Peccary are unique. No other
forest-dwelling ungulate in the Neotropics occurs in such large groups, which in
fact resemble in size the herds of many plains-dwelling ungulates.
Peccary is larger than the Collared Peccary, and weighs about
one-third more. The main predators of all
peccaries are the jaguar (Panthera onca),
puma or cougar (Puma
concolor) and humans (Homo sapiens) (Kiltie and Terborgh
Collared Peccary has a higher tolerance
to hunting by humans and to man-made habitat alterations than the White-lipped Peccary, and so
survives better than the latter species in areas where human settlements are
more numerous (Altrichter and Boaglio 2004). One reason for the
White-lipped Peccary's greater vulnerability of hunting by humans may be that it tends to
confront threats, while the Collared Peccary typically flees from danger (Peres
1996; Cullen et al. 2000; Keuroghlian et al. 2004)
in foraging and food habits
In tropical rain
forests and tropical deciduous forests, a great quantity of fruits, seeds and
nuts fall from trees to the ground, and these constitute the primary food of
both the White-lipped and Collared Peccaries that live in these forests (Kiltie
1981; Bodmer 1991a; Barreto et al. 1997;
Keutoghlian & Eaton 2008). Large numbers of beetle larvae
often infest the endocarps of fallen nuts and enhance the nutritional value of
this food (Silvius 2002).
Because both peccaries so
thoroughly masticate seeds, only very tiny seeds (e.g. Rubiaceae and small Brosimum)
escape destruction and pass unharmed through their digestive systems (Bodmer
1991b). Thus, the 2 peccary species are primarily seed predators rather
than seed dispersers. They disperse larger seeds only when they spit them
out during mastication (Bodmer 1991b).
Because it is
larger in size, the White-lipped Peccary is able to crush harder seeds and nuts
with its jaws than the Collared Peccary (Kiltie 1982; Beck 2006). For
example, in feeding trials conducted at the Lima Zoo in Peru, Kiltie found that
Collared Peccaries were unable to crush and eat nuts of the palm trees Iriartea
ventricosa and Socratea exorrhiza. However, White-lipped
Peccaries at the same zoo crushed and ate these hard nuts.
National Park in the Peruvian Amazon, Kiltie found that fallen nuts of Iriartea
and Socratea accumulated in large numbers under trees until roving herds
of White-lipped Peccaries found them and consumed them. Apparently, these
nuts were too hard for other animals to crush and eat. However, Kiltie
also found that there were several species of common seeds and nuts at Manú
that even the White-lipped Peccary was not strong enough to crush. These
super-hard nuts came from certain palms (Phytelephas microcarpa, Scheelea
sp., Mauritia flexuosa) and a legume (Dipteryx micrantha).
In contrast, during the feeding trials at the zoo, both the
and the Collared Peccary were able to crush and eat nuts of the palms Astrocaryum
macrocalyx and Jessenia sp., which were less hard than the other
species that Kiltie studied, and which were also found at Manú.
In tropical rain
forests, the foraging of the 2 peccary species differs in other ways as
well. At Manú, Kiltie and Terborgh (1983) found that the White-lipped
Peccary "bulldozes through the upper few centimeters of soil and
litter...using its snout more as a plow than a spade. Often several
animals move forward, shoulder to shoulder, pushing a row of litter ahead of
them." Rarely did the White-lipped Peccary make deep excavations.
contrast, the Collared Peccary sometimes made deep excavations for roots and
tubers, but otherwise did not overturn the leaf litter on the forest floor like
the White-lipped Peccary. Nuts and fruits were taken individually from the
surface by the Collared Peccary, without disturbing the leaf litter (Kiltie and Terborgh 1983).
Peccary and Collared Peccary are also sympatric in the Brazilian Caatinga, an
arid region of dry, open woodlands, thorn forest, and thorn scrub.
Here however, both peccaries feed mainly on roots and tubers, rather than
For example, in Serra da Capivara National Park, Piauí,
Brazil, Olmos (1993) found that 79% of the diet of the White-lipped Peccary was
roots, 6% tubers, 14% seeds and 1% succulent vines. In contrast, the
collared peccary was found to be more generalized in its food habits, feeding
equally on roots (33%), tubers (40%) and seeds (26%). Only one percent of its
diet was fruit.
Olmos points out that in the Caatinga, roots and
tubers are a more dependable food resource than fruits and leaves, since the
latter two are produced only when there is adequate rainfall. During the
prolonged droughts that occur in this region, peccaries can survive because they
dig up and eat roots and tubers.
In the Caatinga,
Olmos (1993) found some overlap in the diet of the 2 peccaries. For
example, one abundant tree, Manihot caerulescens (Euphorbiaceae), was
important to both peccaries, its roots and very hard seeds supplying 33% of the
food of the White-lipped Peccary and 21% of the food of the Collared Peccary.
However, Olmos also found separation in food habits.
For example, the
roots of one of the most common trees of the area, Thiloa glaucocarpa (Combretaceae),
made up 48% of the White-lipped Peccary's diet, but only 7% of the Collared
Peccary's diet. In addition, 53% of foods eaten by the Collared Peccary
were roots and tubers of plant species that the White-lipped Peccary did not eat
(i.e. Boerhaavia coccinea Nyctaginaceae, Swarzia flammengii
Caesalpinoideae and Pentalostelma sp. Asclepiadaceae).
Finish reading this review on Page 2.
Photograph at top of page: A herd of White-lipped
pecari) at Parque Nacional das Emas, Brazil. Photo by Miha