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T Is For Tapir

Updated on April 16, 2013

The tapir is a short mammal with a prehensile nose that is related to horses and rhinoceroses. In Chinese myths, it is said that tapirs can eat someone's dreams. In their native habitats, they are known for being much more docile than that.

Mother and Juvenile Brazilian Tapirs in the Marsh Grass

Nicole Duplaix

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Although many people think the tapir (tap-ear) looks a lot like a pig, it's closest mammal relatives are horses and rhinoceroses. Those animals and the tapir are all classified as perissodactyls, which refers to the type of hoof structure they share. They are all odd-toed ungulates.

Baby tapir have speckled coats which they lose as adults, when they take on the single or duo-toned body color depending on their species. The picture in the intro shows a two-tone adullt tapir, while if you look below at the videos, you'll see some of the solid color adults too.

Tapir have a long, flexible nose, called a proboscis. They not only smell with this prehensile nose tip, but they can use it a bit like a finger for digging and grabbing leaves.

What do Tapirs eat?

Tapirs are herbivores and depending on where they live, they might eat leaves, grasses, bamboo, twigs and lots of different types of fruit.

Take A Look At The Tapir

Tell us about your tapir encounters! Did you get to see one in the wild or at a zoo?

Have You Ever Seen This Unique Animal?

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      bob 3 years ago