Where Peccaries Wallow, Other Animals Follow
Peccaries are like pigs: They wallow. In the Peruvian rain forest, those mud puddles are wildlife magnets.
by Emma Marris
COCHA CASHU BIOLOGICAL STATION, Peru—At this research outpost in Manú National Park, east of the Andes, there’s an open space in the Amazon rain forest, a wet clearing where the surrounding vegetation is covered in splattered mud. In the central puddle, diving beetles ripple the surface as they rise to sip oxygen from the air. An aquatic cricket swims laps.
The mud around the puddle is spangled with the tracks of animals—and in particular with the impressions, like strokes from a wire brush, left not by the feet but by the stiff hair of the collared peccary.
This is a peccary wallow. Collared peccaries (Pecari tajacu) are piglike animals, and like domestic pigs, they love to wallow in mud.
Rolling and bathing likely removes parasites, says tropical ecologist Harald Beck of Towson University in Maryland, and it certainly coats the peccaries’ backs with mud, which keeps them cool. It also may be just plain fun. “They behave like little kids,” says Beck. “A lot of splashing around, social behavior and grooming.”…
(read more: National Geographic)
photograph: Harald Beck
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