Unveiling the Enigmatic World of Tapirs: Exploring the Fascinating Lives of eагtһ’s Ancient Odd-Hoofed Mammals

Tapirs are odd-hoofed mammals belonging to the Tapiridae family, appearing about 55 million years ago and distributed throughout the world. According to scientific research, Asian and American tapirs branched out about 20 – 30 million years ago and American tapirs moved from North America to Central America and South America about 3 million years ago.



There are currently four recognized species of tapir in the world, all of which belong to the genus Tapirus, including:

  • South American tapir (Tapirus terrestris)
  • Malayan tapir (Tapirus indicus)
  • Baird’s tapir (Tapirus bairdii)
  • Mountain tapir (Tapirus pinchaque)

The lifespan of tapirs usually lasts 25 – 30 years, even in the wild or in zoos.

In terms of morphological characteristics, tapirs look similar to wild boars but are larger in size. Most tapirs have a body length of about 1.8m – 2.4m; height 0.9m – 1.1m; Weight is about 250kg – 320kg, sometimes up to 400kg. The color of the tapir’s fur varies depending on the species, for example, some species have fur from reddish brown to gray, or almost black, or the most unique is having a saddle-shaped white mark on the back like the Malayan tapir…



Tapirs have a unique trunk that looks like an elephant’s trunk

The clearly identifiable feature of tapirs is the trunk, formed by the nose and elongated upper lip. The trunk has high flexibility, the ability to move flexibly in all directions, helping them easily get food from locations around where they are standing. The length of the tapir varies depending on the species, the longest is the Malayan tapir and the shortest is the Brazilian (South American) tapir.



Tapirs’ feet have flat hooves with 4 front toes and 3 back toes, helping them easily move in soft or muddy ground.

The main habitat of tapirs is dense forests and tropical rain forests in South America, Central America and Southeast Asia. Their main food is fruit, grass or young, soft leaves. They will often press their snouts to the ground to find food along forest trails. If living near a water source, tapirs will swim, dive to the bottom and forage along the river bed. This is also a way to help them cool and remove insects from their bodies.



Under favorable conditions, female tapirs can give birth every 2 years, each pregnancy lasts about 395 days and gives birth to only 1 calf. When the young are born, they will have stripes and dots on their bodies as a form of camouflage. These marks will disappear after about 6-8 months.


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