Monday, August 3, 2020

Tapir (Tapiridae) in general

Tapirs inhabit forests or grassy areas where they can rest and take shelter in vegetation. They prefer areas near water, where they cool off and feed on aquatic plants and fruit from palm trees in gallery forests.

Size varies between types, but most tapirs are about 2 m (7 ft) long, stand about 1 m (3 ft) high at the shoulder, and depending on the species weigh between 150 and 375 kg (330–800 lb) The mountain tapir is the smallest species, and the Asian tapir is the largest. An adult Asian tapir can weigh up to 540 kilograms, but, more often, the weight is in the range of 250–300 kilograms.

Tapirs are mammals. Like all other mammals, tapirs are warm-blooded, they have hair on their body, and females produce milk to feed their young.

Coats are short and range in color from reddish-brown to grey to nearly black, with the notable exceptions of the Asian Tapir, which has a white saddle-shaped marking on its back, and the mountain tapir, which has longer, woolly fur.

Body shape makes tapirs look like large pigs. Their long snout reminds some people of anteaters. Yet neither of these animals is closely related to tapirs. Feet provided the clue for scientists to understand how to classify these animals. Tapirs walk on the end bones of their toes. Toes are protected by a large nail that forms a hoof.

The proboscis of the tapir is highly flexible, and with the ability to move in all directions, it allows the animals to grab foliage that would otherwise be out of reach. Tapirs often exhibit the flehmen response, a behavior in which they raise their snouts and show their teeth in order to detect scents.

The tapir’s trunk has a somewhat similar function as that of an elephant and helps in feeding on branches and leaves. It is very mobile and can be extended or contracted considerably. Apart from the use as a gripping organ it also comes in handy for sniffing and feeling food or other items. Whereas the trunk is quite sensitive, the tapir’s neck is known to be very thick and tough.

Adult tapirs are large enough that they have few natural predators, and the thick skin on the backs of their necks helps to protect them from threats such as jaguars, crocodiles, anacondas, and tigers. They are also able to run fairly quickly considering their size and cumbersome appearance.

There are four species of tapirs:
Baird’s tapir
Lowland tapir
Mountain tapir
Malayan tapir
Tapir (Tapiridae) in general
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