Tapirs (4 toes on their front hooves, 3 on the rear) are related to the equidae (horses, donkeys and zebras) and rhinoceros families. Together, these three families form the perissodactyla order: non-ruminating ungulates with an odd number of toes. The tapir has a characteristic nasal organ and upper lip which form a short mobile trunk. This prehensile lip allows it to feed by selecting and grabbing leaves and branches. Its most developed sense is its sense of smell.
Tapirs are found in many South American countries, but are most common in Brazil.
The tapir likes to be around water, and is an excellent swimmer and diver. When frightened, it seeks refuge in water. It is a solitary species. Males mark their territory with splashes of urine. As well as using olfactory communication, tapirs also communicate in proximity using whistling sounds. Females produce a single calf, which has a hide that is striped with white spots, providing camouflage in the forest. The tapir’s predators, apart from humans, include jaguars and to a lesser extent pumas.
Rainforest, near water or swamps.
Leaves, bark, fruit, seeds, buds, shoots and branches.
Thanks to its exceptional sense of smell, the tapir is able to differentiate between more than 50 plant species.