Chacoan PeccaryCatagonus wagneri
FamilyTayassuidae, peccary family
Conservation StatusEndangered, IUCN
DistributionBolivia, Argentina, and Paraguay.
HabitatSemi-arid thorn forest areas of low rainfall and high temperature
FactoidUntil recently, this species was known to science only through fossil remains. The first modern-day sightings of live Chacoan peccaries in Paraguay were reported in 1972.
The Chacoan is the largest of the peccaries. Males and females look alike. The bristly coat is a speckled charcoal or brownish-gray, interspersed with long guard hairs, which may be up to 8-9” long. There is a whitish collar across the shoulders and under the chin, which is thinner and less distinct than that in the Collared peccary. There is a black dorsal stripe, which trails onto the tail. The head is extremely large, and the nose tapers to a snout disc made of cartilage. The long, donkey-like ears are covered with long, pale hair, as are the legs. The legs are relatively long and adapted for running, with dewclaws only on the forelegs.
The peccary uses its snout to roll cacti on the ground, rubbing the spines off. Its kidneys are specialized to break down acids from the cacti, and its two-chambered stomach is well suited to digest its food. The bristly brownish-gray coat provides excellent camouflage, and peccaries’ tiny feet help them to pick their way through their thorny habitat. Chacoan peccaries also possess a third hind toe, while other peccaries only have two.