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Chacoan Peccary (Catagonus wagneri) Fact Sheet: Physical Characteristics

Chacoan Peccary (Catagonus wagneri)

Physical Characteristics

Body measurements

Attribute Males Females
Weight 29.5-40 kg (65-88 lb) 30.5-38.5 kg (67-85 lb)
Length 96-116 cm (38-46 in) 103-117 cm (40.5-46 in)
Shoulder height 52-69 cm (21-27 in) 52.5-64 cm (20-25 in)

General Appearance

(Taber et al. 2011)

  • Largest of the extant peccary species
  • Long hairs give it a shaggy appearance
  • Brownish-gray with a collar of lighter hairs across its shoulder
  • Large head

Sexual Dimorphism

  • Sexes are similar in appearance--nearly indistinguishable in the field.
  • Skeletal characteristics of primitive and recent species of peccaries indicate an evolutionary trend of reduced sexual dimorphism.


  • Coloration is grizzled and includes various shades of gray-brown, black, and white and is similar to, though paler than, the collared peccary. The Chacoan peccary has a dark, mid-dorsal stripe and a diffuse, pale band that extends from the lower jaw to the back just behind the shoulder (the band is less distinct than in the collared peccary).
  • Long hairs give it a shaggy appearance. Winter hairs are nearly 5 cm longer and thicker in diameter than summer hairs.
  • Pelage of juveniles (until the age of 3-4 months) is grizzled tan and black, with a black back stripe, tan shoulder collar, and white underside.

Other Physical and Physiological Characteristics

  • Peccaries are distinguishable from pigs by having upper canines that are relatively small and point down, as opposed to the large, upper canines of pigs that curve upward and outward. Peccaries, like pigs, have four toes on the frontfoot, but pigs have four toes on the hindfoot, while there are just two functional toes on the hindfoot of peccaries. Pecari tajacu and T. pecari have a vestigial, median digit (dewclaw) on the back of the hindfoot, but this is usually absent in C. wagneri.
  • The Chacoan peccary is distinguishable from the collared peccary and white-lipped peccary by its larger size, longer dorsal pelage, and a longer, more concave rostrum (skull's facial region). It also has a proportionally larger head and longer ears, legs, and tail.
  • Longer limbs and loss of the hindfoot dewclaw are adaptations for a cursorial life in open, semiarid habitats. Also beneficial for living in open habitats is the skull's curvature, which permits horizontal vision while foraging with head down.
  • Females have four pairs of mammae (one pair pectoral, two pairs abdominal, and one pair inguinal).
  • Large scent gland on the rear of the back, about 15 cm above the base of the tail.
  • Nasal chambers and sinuses are well-developed, possibly an adaptation to the dusty conditions found during much of the year in the Chaco.
  • Dental formula is: incisors, 2/3; canines, 1/1; premolars, 3/3; molars, 3/3; total, 38. Tooth structure suggests the Chacoan peccary is a browser, and broadened molars emphasize grinding mastication.
  • Olfaction and hearing are good; vision is poor.

Chacoan Peccary

Chacoan Peccary shaggy hair

The Chacoan peccary's long hairs give it a shaggy appearance.

The length of these hairs changes with the seasons, being longer in winter and shorter in summer.

Image credit: © San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. All rights reserved.

Page Citations

Herring (1985)
Hess et al. (1985)
Mares et al. (1989)
Mayer & Brandt (1982)
Mayer & Wetzel (1986)
Nowak (1999)
Oliver (1993)
Redford & Eisenberg (1992)
Sowls (1997)
Taber et al. (1993)
Taber et al. (2011)
Wetzel (1977)
Wright (1993)

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