- Genus: Tapirus. There are 4 species
- Conservation Status: Endangered.
- Where Found: Central and South America, the Andes Mountains, South East Asia.
Looks like a Pig, Related to the Horse
The tapir is a strange looking animal. It resembles a pig, is related to the horse and has a trunk that is a smaller version of an elephant’s! There are four species of tapirs. Baird’s tapir has cream colored markings on its face, while the Brazilian tapir is a fantastic swimmer. The Asian tapir is the largest…it can weigh up to 800 lbs, while the mountain tapir is the smallest. Tapirs are distinguished by their long noses or snouts, and the humps that they have on their shoulders. They are found in moist dense forests and grasslands- except for the mountain tapir which lives high in the Andes Mountains.
A tapir is about 6 to 7 feet long and weighs between 350 to 700 lbs- it is around the size of a Shetland pony. Tapirs are herbivores and use their long snout to grab leaves, branches and twigs from bushes and low trees. They also love to feast on buds, shoots, berries, fruits and aquatic plants. They feed mainly in the morning and evening, following tunnel like paths that they have made through the brush.
Tapirs have changed little over tens of millions of years. Sadly today all four species are endangered because the forests that are their home are being destroyed and they are being hunted. We can save the Tapir by contributing to one of the many Tapir Conservation projects. Each donation, no matter how small, can make a big difference!
Did You Know?
- A group of tapirs is known as a candle.
- Tapirs can communicate in a number of ways. A high-pitched whistle is one of the most common sounds that they make. It resembles car brakes screeching to a halt!
- Tapirs like to spend a lot of time in the water, eating aquatic plants, cooling off, or washing away skin parasites. They can stay under the water for several minutes.
- Tapirs are generally solitary animals, communicating through shrill whistles and urine scent-marks.