Brazilian tapir – TAPERUS TERRESTRIS
- Class: Animals with Milk Glands (Mammalia)
- Subclass: True Mammals (Eutheria)
- Order: Odd-toed Mammals (Perissodactyla)
- Family: Tapiridae.
The Name “Tapir”: “Tapir” is a Guarani name for the animal, Guarani evidently being a form of Spanish spoken in Paraguay.
Location: South America.
Terrestrial and semiaquatic. Dense forest.
The adults have a uniform pinkish-brown coloration while the young are brownish and have whitish stripes and spots until 6 to 8 months of age. The adults possess a kind of sparse mane, but otherwise, the hair is short. A rather long elephant-like nose is formed by the upper lip and the nose, while the small tail is inconspicuous. Like its Malayan cousin, the Brazilian tapir can reach six and one half feet long, three and a half feet at the shoulders, and over 500 pounds.
This solitary species lives in forests and near water and can swim quite well. It is timid, fleeing at the first sign of danger, but is capable of defending itself by biting. The tapir’s greatest enemy is the powerful jaguar. Tapirs are particularly vulnerable at night when they emerge from the water to sleep on the river bank. They feed mainly on plants and sometimes make forays into cultivated fields. It has always been a favorite prey of the native Indian hunters, who will sometimes capture the young and keep them in captivity until they reach maturity.
The female has only a single pair of mammary glands. A single young is born after about 400 days of gestation.
The total number of tapirs of all species is declining. The major reason for this is the worldwide destruction of the forest, which is their sole habitat.