As it is World Tapir Day, I have decided to do a post with a few fact about Tapirs – enjoy!
The Tapir is a large, solitary mammal; with a short, prehensile snout (looks like a mini trunk). Being prehensile, this can be used as a we would a finger/hand – the Tapir uses it to wrap around branches and pull of the tasty leaves and vegetation it feeds on. The Tapir is a herbivore; using this “mini trunk” to help it obtain food, as it will spend a lot of time foraging for food. The Tapir eats twigs/ branches, leaves, shoots, buds, berries/ fruits, and even aquatic plants.
Tapirs live in the jungle and forest regions of South anf Central America, and Southeast Asia. They live within the dense undergrowth on the jungle or forest floor – except for the Mountain Tapir (as the name suggests).
These have all been classified as endangered or threatened species. They are relates to other ungulates, including horses and rhinoceroses. They are however odd-toed ungulates, unlike the horse.
There are four species of Tapir:
- Brazilian Tapir
- Mountain Tapir
- Malayan (or Asian) Tapir
- Baird’s Tapir
The Baird’s Tapir has cream coloured markings lining the tips of the ears, under the chin, and continuing down to the chest – making it easy to identify. It inhabits forests of Central and South America.
The Malayan Tapir is the largest of the Tapir species. It has a distinctive colouration; being dark grey/ black in colour with a white band around from the midriff to the hind; around the body. The Malayan Tapir inhabited the tropical forests across South East Asia; however, today has a much smaller habitat range (due to habitat loss caused primarily by man). This species is my personal favourite.
The Mountain Tapir is the smallest of the Tapir species and lives in mountainous regions; unlike the other three species. It can be found in the high forests in the Andes mountains (Colombia, Ecuador and parts north of Peru). This is the furriest species- needing a thicker coat to help keep it warm in the mountains. The Mountain Tapir has the same cream tipped ears as the Baird’s Tapir, however it also has cream markings around the mouth (personally I think it looks like cream coloured lipstick!) making it easy to distinguish.
The Brazilian Tapir is known to be a great swimmer and the is generally found close to water; in the Amazon Rainforest. The colouration of this species is a light brown; with an even paler colouration running under the body. The Brazilian Tapir also has slightly smaller ears, that sit further to the side (rather than the top) of the head – when compared to the other three species.
Baby Tapirs are usually brown in colour, with spots and stripes on their coats; this helps them blend in to the undergrowth, and helps them to stay hidden from predators – as they cannot run as fast as mum to get away, hiding is the best option for the little ones.