Mammal

Tapir

Area: 
Mexico, Central America, South America, and Asia
Habitat: 
Swamps, forests, and rain forests
Food: 
Leaves and fruit
Size: 
6 to 8 feet long, about 3 feet tall at the shoulder
Babies: 
At birth, a calf is brown with beige stripes. Many people think a tapir calf looks like a walking watermelon!
After tapirs eat fruit, the seeds pass through their body and can sprout into new trees.
Ancient AnimalAny living thing that is not a plant. Most animals can move about freely. All use plants or other animals as food. All have sensory organs.

 

They may look odd at first, but tapirs have adaptations that have helped them survive on Earth for a very long time. They are primitive animals that have remained unchanged for millions of years. Fossils of tapir ancestors have been found on every continent except Antarctica.

 

People often think a tapir is a kind of pig or anteater, but it is actually most closely related to horses and rhinos. Its nose and upper lip are combined into a flexible snout that the animalAny living thing that is not a plant. Most animals can move about freely. All use plants or other animals as food. All have sensory organs. uses to reach and pull food into its mouth. A tapir is both a browser and a grazer! It uses its snout to pluck leaves from tree branches or to feel around in the underbrush for fallen fruit to eat.

 

Tapirs are nocturnalAwake and active during the night, asleep during the day. animals that like to spend a lot of time in the water. They can stay under the water for several minutes. In fact, when frightened, tapirs hide in the water and breathe with their snout poked above the surface like a snorkel!