The Brazilian tapir is one of the world’s more unique and beautiful marsupials. It is also one of the most challenging animals to breed in captivity. Its Latin name, “Tapirus terrestris,” also refers to its habitat: the taiguarã, or terrestrial rainforest of central Brazil. This animal is a macaque, the largest of all Brazilian mammals. This marsupial has a very short tail and large ears that help it hear sounds other animals make. Its long legs and large claws help it climb trees to hunt for food. Thanks to its reddish-brown fur, which varies in color depending on the animal’s sex and age, the Brazilian tapir is also known as the “corbeau marinho” in Portuguese. The word “corbeau” comes from the French word for “turkey,” and the Brazilian tapir is certainly the closest relative of a turkey you will ever see!
This fascinating creature’s life is quite fascinating. Although it is endangered because it is hunted for sport, its population has risen recently, as measures are now in place to protect it. Thanks to responsible hunters, who shoot only mature animals, there have been no reported cases of the endangered species in over a decade. Furthermore, male and female mating pairs must never be separated, as the female carries the babies in a pouch for the first six months of their lives.
The Biology Of The Brazilian Tapir
The biology of the Brazilian tapir is fascinating, and it is undoubtedly one of the most exciting aspects of this magnificent mammal! Like other members of its family, the Brazilian tapir is a sexually dimorphic species, which means that both males and females have distinct physical differences. The males, who are slightly larger than the females, have very large antlers that they use to fight with other males for territory and mating privileges. They are also known to bite off the tails of their victims. The females, on the other hand, have very distinct sexual characteristics, and one of the most prominent of these is their large mammary glands, which are used for nourishing their young. These glands are located in the armpits and the nipples, producing large amounts of creamy milk when stimulated. Interestingly, the female’s underbelly is adorned with many black markings at any given time, which act as camouflage and ward off any unwelcome visitors!
This dimorphism can be attributed to the fact that both the male and female of the species, during embryonic development, become indistinguishable mass, which eventually undergoes sexual differentiation. So, although the sexes are physically different, they begin life the same. This is one of the reasons why it is so essential for the species not to be caged or confined to small spaces, as their developmental clock soon begins to tick, and they will seek to breed, even if they are kept separately! Another similarity between the male and female Brazilian tapirs is that they have the same lifespan, which is roughly ten years. After this time, they reach sexual maturity and begin to live separate and independent lives. This makes perfect sense when you consider that the male’s large antlers, which can measure up to a couple of feet in length, serve two purposes: as a fighting tool and a means of displaying his physical dom
- 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.