A tapir is a large herbivorous mammal, similar in shape to a pig, with a short,prehensile snout. Tapirs inhabit jungle and forest regions of South America, Central America, and Southeastern Asia. The five extant species of tapirs are the Brazilian tapir, the Malayan tapir, the Baird’s tapir, the kabomani tapir, and the mountain tapir. The four species that have been evaluated (the Brazilian, Malayan, Baird’s and mountain tapir) have all been classified as endangered or vulnerable. Their closest relatives are the other odd-toed ungulates, including horses and rhinoceroses.
Tapirs weigh from 500-700 pounds and can reach 29-42 height at shoulders. Malayan tapir is the largest and Mountain tapir is the smallest species.
Closest relatives of tapirs are horses and rhinos.
Tapirs have not changed much for tens of millions of years.
Tapirs have 4 toes on their front feet and 3 toes on their back feet.
Tapirs are herbivorous. They eat leaves and fruit twice a day.
These animals are ecologically very important because they disperse seeds with their feces as they move from one location to another.
Their snout is a fusion of nose and upper lip. It facilitates eating. Tapirs use it to grab leaves from the nearby branches, pick up the fruit from the ground or to find aquatic plant on the bottom of the water.
Group of tapirs is called a “candle”.
Tapirs communicate verbally, via high pitched sounds and non-verbally, via urine droppings. By sniffing and recognizing urine marks, tapirs can know if there are other tapirs in the area.
They like to spend time in the water because water cools them down and helps them in removing parasites.
Tapirs can spend few minutes under the water. They can use their snouts as snorkels if they need to hide under the water longer period of time (in the case of danger).
Jaguars, tigers, crocodile and anacondas hunt tapirs.
After 13 months of pregnancy, one calf will be born. As long as mother produces milk, young tapir will eat it.
Young tapirs have specific yellow and white stripes and spots on the reddish-brown fur which provide excellent camouflage. After few months (when they lose these marks), they look like miniature version of adult animal.
Tapirs live 25-30 years in the wild and over 30 years in captivity.
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