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Chacoan Peccary (Catagonus wagneri) Fact Sheet: Diet & Feeding

Chacoan Peccary (Catagonus wagneri)


  • Frugivores/herbivores: eat mainly fruits and other fleshy plant parts.
  • Cacti form the bulk of the diet, but also roots and inner portions of bromeliads, seed pods of Acacia spp. and Prosopis spp. (mesquite), and herbs.  Animals at Proyecto Taguá ate empty shells of large land snails, and a dwarf Patagonian cavy was killed and eaten on one occasion (Benirschke et al.,1990).
  • Compared to the collared peccary, which feeds less on cacti, the Chacoan peccary's ability to feed almost exclusively on such a lower quality diet may be facilitated by its larger body size, which relates to its larger gut contents and a lower metabolic rate. Digestive fermentation is aided by its complex stomach; peccaries have a two-chambered stomach consisting of four main sections, whereas pigs have a simple, one-chambered stomach.


  • Daily food intake is estimated to be 4 kg.
  • Core foraging areas include cactus patches, which are sporadically distributed in thorn forest habitat. Daily ranges average 18.25 ha, and a particular range is used about every 42 days. This 42-day cycle allows cactus-rich areas to regenerate, thus, enabling peccaries to maximize nutrient intake.
  • Home ranges lack surface water during the dry season, indicating that cacti (90% water by weight) provide Chacoan peccaries with sufficient water. They occasionally drink water in managed care. Because its kidneys are more able to concentrate urine and thus conserve additional water, the Chacoan peccary can live in drier areas than the collared peccary.
  • Soil is often eaten at salt licks and at leaf-cutter ant (Atta spp.) mounds. These ant mounds have significantly higher concentrations of calcium, magnesium, chlorine, and sodium than the surrounding soil.

Spiny Diet

An adult and juvenile Chacoan Peccary foraging

Cacti make up most of a Chacoan peccary's diet.

Chacoan peccaries live in very warm places, and appear to eat cacti to meet their water needs.

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

Page Citations

Benirschke & Heuschele (1993)
Handen & Benirschke (1991)
Mayer & Brandt (1982)
Mayer & Wetzel (1986)
Nowak (1999)
Oliver (1993)
Redford & Eisenberg (1992)
Sowls (1997)
Taber et al. (1993)
Taber et al. (1994)

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