17 Interesting Facts About Tapir

Spread the love

What is a Tapir

Tapirs are large herbivorous mammals that are related to horses and rhinoceroses. Their most distinctive feature is their flexible proboscis, or trunk, which is an elongated nose and upper lip. Tapirs use their trunk to grab leaves and fruit to eat. There are four species of tapir found in Central and South America and Southeast Asia.

Tapirs inhabit forests and grasslands near water sources. They are excellent swimmers and often take to the water to feed on aquatic plants and to escape predators. Tapirs play an important role in seed dispersal through their feces, promoting new plant growth as they wander through their habitat1. They also create trails and pathways as they travel which are used by other animals.

malayan tapir
Malayan tapir by Egui_ is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0 .

All four tapir species are classified as endangered or vulnerable due to habitat loss from deforestation and hunting. Tapirs reproduce slowly, having just one offspring per pregnancy with a long 13-14 month gestation period. Conservation efforts are underway to protect the remaining tapir populations and their habitat. Tapirs are an ancient lineage that has changed little over millions of years, making them fascinating creatures to study and protect.

Tapirs have been around for millions of years but many people know little about them. To shed more light on these fascinating animals, here are 17 intriguing facts about tapirs:

Interesting Facts About Tapir

  • 1. There are four species of tapir – the Brazilian tapir, Baird’s tapir, the Malayan tapir, and the Mountain tapir. Each species varies slightly in size and color patterns.
  • 2. Tapirs have a distinct proboscis nose – This trunk-like nose is a fusion of the nose and upper lip. It is flexible and can be moved in all directions. Tapirs use their proboscis to grab foliage and fruit.
  • 3. The closest relatives to tapirs are odd-toed ungulates – This group consists of rhinos and horses. Genetic studies confirm this relationship despite the significant visual differences.
  • 4. Tapirs have an excellent sense of smell and hearing – They rely on these senses to detect predators in dense forest habitats. Their eyesight is relatively poor.
  • 5. Newborn tapirs have camouflage coat patterns – When babies are born, their fur is covered in white spots and stripes. This provides concealment from predators in the first few months of life.
  • 6. Tapirs are mostly solitary animals – Adults live and forage alone except when mating or raising offspring. Females will aggressively defend young calves from predators.
  • 7. Tapirs are herbivores that eat a wide range of vegetation – Their diverse diet includes leaves, buds, shoots, fruits, berries, and aquatic plants. An adult tapir eats around 75 lbs of vegetation daily.
  • 8. Tapirs regularly bathe and swim – They spend lots of time in water and mud, which helps regulate body temperature and remove parasites. Tapirs are fast, agile swimmers as well.
  • 9. Tapirs have been described as a “living fossils” – These primitive placentals have changed little over tens of millions of years based on fossil records.
  • 10. Tapirs once roamed across much of North America, Europe, and Asia – But today they only occupy small, isolated habitats in Central and South America plus Southeast Asia.
  • 11. Deforestation threatens wild tapir populations – Habitat loss and illegal hunting have made all four species endangered with declining numbers.
  • 12. Tapirs play an important role as “seed dispersers” – The seeds of plants they eat get dispersed through the forest in their dung. This helps vegetation growth.
  • 13. Tapirs have tough hides that don’t fully penetrate with bullets – This makes hunting them more challenging, but also more cruel if the animal is merely wounded.
  • 14. Tapirs have four toes on each front foot and three toes on each hind foot – This odd number is one reason they are classified as odd-toed ungulates.
  • 15. Baby tapirs have brown and beige striped fur – This provides camouflage in the dappled light of the rainforest. The patterns fade to solid colors in adulthood.
  • 16. Tapirs have very poor eyesight – To compensate they have an excellent sense of smell and hearing. Their noses and ears help them detect predators and locate food sources.
  • 17. Tapirs can live around 30 years in captivity – Their average lifespan in the wild is shorter at 25 to 28 years. Loss of habitat threatens their ability to reach maximum longevity.

In conclusion, tapirs are primitive surviving mammals with unique adaptations. They play vital roles in seed dispersal and forest ecology. Sadly, habitat destruction and hunting endanger all four tapir species. Greater public awareness and conservation efforts are needed to protect these intriguing animals.

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tapir []

Spread the love

Similar Posts