What is that strange noise?
It is 10 o’clock at night and we are sitting down (finally), relaxing and watching a little TV that doesn’t have a square talking sea sponge, brightly colored Ninjas or a little pirate named Jake. The kids are all in bed asleep, Gracie is curled up in her dog bed next to us, Grandma isn’t making any trouble, so what is making that sound?
My husband gets up to investigate, looks out the window next to the front door and “whisper yells” – you know the voice I am talking about, that excited voice that doesn’t want to wake the kids or in this case scare something away (or wake the kids) but needs to convey urgency – at me “You have got to come take a look at this. You aren’t going to like it, but you need to come and check it out.”
This NEVER turns out well for me.
Since we moved to a more “deserty” area of the Sonoran desert, our home – which we now refer to as “The Brewer Nature Preserve” – has been visited by all manner of creatures. Most stay outside where they can be “appreciated” from a distance. However, on some regrettable occasions, a few have made their way indoors, prompting my husband to say something like “you aren’t going to like this, but you need to come and check it out.”
So I muster my courage, swallow the lump in my throat, and walk in his general direction; he’s still by the front door, looking outside. Whew, at least it’s outside. I peek out the window and “what to my wondering eyes do appear?” Three Javelinas devouring the perfect pumpkins I had just purchased earlier that day. I did not expect that.
My immediate reaction was relief “thank the Lord it’s not a snake” (I do not enjoy snakes) which was closely followed by “hey PIG, that’s my kid’s pumpkin!” Which then quickly changed to “Hey, those are Javelinas. RIGHT THERE. Amazing”. And then I saw two more and then I saw the baby one.
Baby anything is a guaranteed heart-melter and this little piggy was no exception. Actually, Javelinas are not technically pigs but they sure look like ’em. Wikipedia tells me they are “a peccary, a medium-sized mammal of the family Tayassuidae or New World pigs. Peccaries are members of the artiodactyl sub order suina, as are the pig family and possibly the hippopotamus family.” What this tells me is they are “pig-like” and that I think I may have just figured out the origin of “here suie, suie, suie”. Maybe not but words like Tayassuidae and artiodactyl have given me a headache and I don’t want to look it up. I personally think they are RUS’s (Rodents of Unusual Size); can you name the movie?
Anyway, I couldn’t let the kids miss out on this but as any mom will tell you, it is best to let sleeping kids sleep. So, I ran and grabbed my camera and slowly opened the front door to get a few pictures. Javelinas are wild animals and are known to be aggressive but the “Lucy” (you’ve heard about her in a previous post) in me took over and I had to get close.
When I went out, they ran off – but not far. I called them back in a soft, soothing, sing-songy voice saying things like “come back, you’re okay, you can have the pumpkin” – “it’s okay widdow piggy, I won’t hurt you” – “come on, that’s it, that’s a good piggy” – “eat the yummy pumpkin” – crazy thing, they came back and started eating again with me crouching just a few feet from them. You can just call me “The Javelina Whisperer”.
So now, I’m slowly getting my camera in position and am saying something more like “okay piggies, don’t charge the nice lady when she takes your picture and sends a blinding flash of light through the darkness at you.” They didn’t. Thank the Lord. They just kept eating. Crazy!
I took several pictures, none of which were very good, but good enough to show the kids what they missed while snug in their beds.
Turns out the kids got to see the Javelinas for themselves because the next morning they were back to finish off whatever bits of pumpkin they had left behind. I called the kids to the windows and Nathan (who thinks a lot like his mom) immediately shouts out “HEY, MOMMMMMY, DAT PIGS EATIN’ MY PUNKIN” and goes to open the front door while saying “I go get dem way from MY PUNKIN!” No fear, no regard for the “strangeness” of the situation (it’s not as if we have “pigs” in our front yard on a regular basis) just a desire to save that which is his.
Of course, I did not let him go outside with the wild animals. I assured him that we could get new pumpkins to carve and he felt better. Then he saw the baby and I practically had to barricade the door. He was certain that the baby pig wanted him to pet it and that we should keep it.
There is not anywhere near enough “Lucy” in me for that!
In the end, the kids were satisfied with watching our visitors through the windows. Eventually, they trotted off around to the back of the house (making the dog go crazy as she stood nearly nose to nose with one through the back gate), knocked over my bird feeder and moseyed on down the wash. We haven’t seen them since, which maybe a good thing as I have since learned a few more things about Javelinas. Things I probably should have known before I went outside to commune with them:
- They are called Javelinas because of their razor-sharp tusks, Spanish for javelin or spear.
- Adult males can weigh 40 to 60 pounds.
- They can run fast and have been clocked at 35 miles per hour.
- They have a distinct musky odor which they will emit when excited or threatened (think skunk).
- Javelinas are generally harmless to humans when undisturbed but watch out when they are with their babies! Even in captivity, they are unpredictable.
- They cannot be domesticated as they are likely to injure humans.
Here’s the best part …
“It is not recommended that you feed them in your yard since they WILL return and in larger numbers. They will get into your garbage cans, dig holes in your yard, knock over your potted plants eating the entire plant AND eat your vegetable, cactus and flower gardens!”
Great. So, they are raccoons. Smelly, fast, potentially dangerous, pig-like, razor tusked raccoons.
Welcome to the desert! Wait until you hear about some of our other visitors.