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Brazilian Tapir Facts

Updated on March 28, 2012

The tapir or Brazilian tapir (scientific name: Tapirus terrestris ) is the largest land mammal in Brazil, reaching 1.20 m in height. Lives in forests and fields of South America, from eastern Colombia to northern Argentina and Paraguay. It is an ungulate (hoofed mammal with a structure made of keratin) that has an odd number of fingers.

The most distinctive feature of the tapirs is their nostrils, long and flexible, which looks like a small trunk. It has a rugged body, tail and small eyes, mane on the neck and a grayish brown color.

It feeds on vegetable matter (leaves, fruits, aquatic vegetation, buds, twigs, grass, stalks) which is digested by the presence of microorganisms that live in your digestive tract. It disperses seeds with the stool, helping in seed dispersal.

The tapir is a solitary animal, which goes in search of a partner only in the reproductive season, emitting some sounds to locate it.

If frightened, the tapir takes refuge in areas of denser forest, or jumps in the water. It is agile in both open and closed areas, and a great swimmer.

The tapir is a nocturnal creature, but can also carry out activities during the day. When living in forests, usually use trails already open, making it more vulnerable to hunting. Can weigh about 300 kg and live 35 years.

Gestation lasts about 13 months being born, just a calve. It has brown fur, with spots and horizontal stripes, white or yellow, that are lost after 5 months. The calf stays with mother for 10 to 11 months of life and reaches sexual maturity after 3 years.

Although not considered endangered animal, the tapir, like many other animals, loses habitat areas, with the devastation of forests and woodlands. Hunting for food and sport, which occurs in some regions, is also a threat.

Scientific Classification

Scientific name: Tapirus Terrestris

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Perissodactyla

Superfamily: Tapiroidea

Family: Tapiridae

Genus: Tapirus

Species: T. Terrestris

Binomial Name

Tapirus Terrestris


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