Living in the tropical rainforest of Central and South America and Southeast Asia is an odd looking animal whose appearance has remained relatively the same for
millions of years; it is the Tapir. There are four extant (alive) species of Tapirs, and possibly five as will be explained below, all of which are either considered
threatened or endangered. Below is a list of interesting facts about this pig like looking animal including where it lives, what it eats, and why it is endangered.
General Tapir Facts
Although they resemble pigs they are in fact more closely related to rhinoceroses and horses.
The habitat of all the species of Tapirs are the tropical rainforest and grasslands of South America, Central America, and Southeastern Asia; with the exception of
mountain tapir (also called woolly tapir), whose habitat is high up in South America's Andes Mountains.
hese mammals are herbivores.
The Tapir's huge size and surprising speed make them a difficult target for predators; however animals such as crocodiles, tigers, jaguars, and anacondas have been
known to kill them.
They may not look like good swimmers but in facts they are very good at swimming. They will enter the water to cool off and will sometimes dive underwater to reach
submerged plants to feed on.
Tapirs are basically solitary animals.
These animals have a short prehensile (able to grasp) trunk. They use this trunk to grasp food such as fruit off of short trees.
Facts about Tapir Species
The four extant species of Tapirs are listed below. Scientist debate over the existence of a fifth species which has been named the Kabomani Tapir. Some experts
believe this animal, which inhabits the western Amazon rainforest in Brazil and Colombia, is simply a juvenile Brazilian tapir whereas other experts believe it to be a
Brazilian Tapir Facts
Scientific name Tapirus terrestris.
This animal is also called South American Tapir, Lowland Tapir, or Anta.
This Tapir lives in the Amazon Rainforest. Its range encompasses areas of Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia, the Guianas, Paraguay, Argentina, Peru, Ecuador, and
The Brazilian Tapir has dark brown fur with a lighter face; its ears have white tips.
They live for approximately 25 to 30 years in the wild.
They are on average 5.9 to 8.2 feet (1.8 to 2.5 meters) long and have a short tail.
This animal's height is between 29 and 42 inches (74 - 107 centimeters) measured at the shoulder.
Their average weight is 496 pounds (225 kilograms).
Malayan Tapir Facts
Scientific name Tapirus indicus.
The Malayan Tapir's habitat are the tropical rainforest of Southeast Asia, in countries including Thailand and Burma.
The Malayan Tapir is easily recognizable by its white (or light-colored) patch of fur that reaches from the back of its shoulders to its rear end; the rest of its
is black with the exception of white tips on its ears.
This species is also called the Asian Tapir.
Their life span is approximately 30 years in both the wild and in captivity.
The Malayan Tapir is the largest of all the species of Tapir. They generally have a weight between 550 and 710 pounds (250 and 320 kilograms); although they have
known to grow much heavier.
They are typically between 5 feet, 11 inches and 8 feet, 2 inches (1.8 and 2.5 meters) long not including a short tail.
Their height is typically 2 feet 11 inches to 3 feet 7 inches (90 - 110 centimeters).
Baird's Tapir Facts
Scientific name Tapirus bairdii.
This species of Tapir can be found in northwest South America, Mexico, and Central America.
Baird's Tapirs are brown or a grayish-brown. On its face and throat are cream-colored markings and they have a dark spot on both their cheeks.
An interesting fact is that this tapir is the largest native land mammal found in Central America and South America.
This animal was named after scientist Spencer Fullerton Baird.
These mammals live for approximately 30 years in both the wild and in captivity.
They are on average 6.6 feet (2 meters) long; not including their short tail.
Baird's Tapirs average height is 2.40 to 3.94 feet (73.15 - 120.09 centimeters).
This mammal's average weight is 330 to 880 pounds (150 - 400 kilograms).
Mountain Tapir Facts
Scientific name Tapirus pinchaque.
This species of Tapir is also referred to as a Woolly Tapir.
This is the only species of Tapir to not live in tropical rainforests. They are found in the mountainous regions of Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru.
It is the smallest of the four recognized Tapir species with an average length of 5.9 feet (1.8 meters) and a height of 2.5 - 3.3 feet (.75 - 1 meter) measured at
Mountain Tapirs have an average weight of 300 -550 pounds (136 -250 kilograms).
This mammal has a thick woolly coat of black or dark brown fur to protect it from the cold regions it inhabits.
This animal has a white band of fur around its lips and most often a white band along the upper ears.
All four species of Tapirs are considered to be in threat of extinction. They are hunted for both food and their hides and their habitats are being increasingly
encroached upon by humans. There is a Tapir Specialist Group that is part of the IUCN who are taking action to
hopefully prevent this unique animal from becoming extinct. Attempts to breed them in captivity seem to be working; one example of this is the birth of a male Malayan
Tapir at the Edinburgh Zoo in Scotland on December 31st, 2014.