Tapir Animal Facts!

Tapirs are the largest land mammal in the rainforest of South America and resemble a pig or a small elephant. The Tapir is covered with hair and has four toes that help it walk on the muddy ground.
What do they eat? This animal is an herbivore, so it eats plants like leaves, roots, fruits, twigs, bark, and shoots. They have a short, prehensile trunk that is used to grab leaves from trees and dig through the mud when they are looking for food.

There are four species of tapirs living today: 

Baird’s TapirsMalayan TapirsMountain Tapirsand Brazilian Tapirs (also called lowland tapirs).

The word ‘Tapirus’ means ‘muzzle.’ This comes from their interesting nose shape. It also has bright blue eyes that can see well at night!

Where does the Tapir live?

The Tapir can be found in the rainforests of South America – mainly in the countries called Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia, and Peru. They are also seen throughout Central America in places like Costa Rica. The Baird’s Tapirs live in Mexico, while Malayan Tapirs live on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo (in Indonesia). A fourth species of the Tapir is found in Papua New Guinea. When these animals feel threatened or surprised, they will make loud whistles to tell their families to run away.
They are shy animals, but they stay with their mothers for two years when they are born. After that, the little ones can play together when the mother has her next baby! The average lifespan of a tapir is around 20 years.

Tapirs have four toes on each foot! Sometimes it will stand on its hind feet and use its tail as support so that this funny-looking creature can reach food high up in trees. Tapirs’ tails also help them balance while walking in mud or water.


The Tapir’s habitat includes forests and grasslands where they find plenty of food to eat, such as leaves, shoots, fruit, and berries. In addition, they like to live near rivers and ponds to get fresh water.

Tapir vs. Peccary

Some people confuse tapirs with peccaries because they look similar! But there are many differences between them. The two animals have different habits, habitats, diets, teeth, and snouts. Peccaries live in the wet, forested areas of Central and South America, while tapirs prefer to live in forests or grasslands. These large mammals usually eat leaves and fruit – but some will also eat insects that they find on land or near the water’s edge. Tapirs have four toes on each foot (like elephants!), while peccaries only have three toes at the front feet and one at the back feet. A tapir’s tail and a peccary’s tail help them balance while walking in mud or water (yes, they can even swim!).

Tapir vs. Anteater

Tapirs and anteaters are both large mammals that live in the rainforest of South America, but they have many differences. For example, tapirs eat leaves, roots, fruits, twigs, bark, and shoots, while anteaters mainly eat ants or termites with their long sticky tongue.
Tapirs are larger than anteaters. They have big, rounded ears on top of their heads, while an anteater has long, thin ears that look like feelers. Tapirs also have a trunk that helps them grasp leaves or water from the ponds and rivers. An anteater does not have a trunk; it uses its very long sticky tongue instead to eat ants or termites in their nests. Tapir’s eyes are positioned further forward on their head than anteaters.

How Many Babies Do Tapirs Have?

Tapirs have one baby at a time. When a mother gives birth to her babies, she will stay with them for 2 years. The young Tapir learns to survive by following their mother around as they grow. After two years, they can leave their mothers and start a family of their own! When a baby is born, it looks like an adult – and it has spots all over its body so that predators cannot see it! This helps keep the baby safe until its fur grows into its long black coat.

Tapir Behavior

Tapirs are shy, quiet animals that spend most of their time alone. But during the rainy season, when there is lots of fruit on the trees, they may be seen feeding together in a group. They usually stay near the water, so you may see them swimming or walking around the edge of ponds and rivers. And these eating machines can eat up to 50 kilograms (100 pounds) of food each night! Tapirs sometimes have too much food stored up because their stomachs cannot fit all of it! So like pigs, they will wallow in mud to let their bodies get rid of any extra fat. Learn more about Tapir’s behavior below!

Tapir Life Cycle

The lifespan of a tapir is 20 years in the wild and 35 years in captivity. A baby tapir is called an “infant” for the first two years of its life, then becomes an “adolescent.” If baby tapirs stay with their mothers until they have babies of their own, they are called “primiparous.” When the baby is with its mother for 2 years, it is a “secondary juvenile,” and if it is still with its mother when she has her next baby after that time, then the little Tapir would be known as a “tertiary juvenile.”

Are Tapir endangered?

Due to illegal hunting and habitat loss, tapir numbers have declined in recent years.
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species has categorized the Brazilian Tapir as “Endangered” and Baird’s Tapir as “Critically Endangered.”
There are estimated populations of around 12,000 of the Brazilian tapirs – but it is thought that there may only be about 2,500 Baird’s tapirs left in the wild.

Are they dangerous?

Tapirs are not dangerous unless they are cornered or provoked. If this happens, be careful! Tapirs might try to protect themselves by biting or kicking their powerful hooves…

Do Tapirs Make Good Pets?

Because they are so large, tapirs do not make good pets. Especially if you have small children because they may accidentally hurt someone or get scared and lash out, tapirs should be left alone in their natural habitat. Good news, though! We have Tapir Art Prints in our store, so visit us and get yours now

To summarize

1. Tapirs are herbivores with large front teeth used for breaking down tough plants for food. Their unique muzzles help them enjoy a varied herbivore diet.
2. Tapirs live near rivers or lakes to find plenty of food and water.
3. They are fun to watch as they play in the mud or swim in river or lake water.
4. Some tapirs are endangered animals that need our protection to survive!
5. Tapirs have been around for about 45 million years.
6. They’re the largest land mammal in South America.
7. The giant Tapir is an endangered species with fewer than 2,000 remaining in the wild today.
8. Tapirs are muscular animals weighing up to 600 pounds!
9. There are four different types of these fascinating animals: Baird’s Tapir, Malayan Tapir, Mountain tapir, and Lowland tapir.
10. Tapirs mostly live in the rainforest, but some like to hang out near rivers and lakes or mixed forests.
11. They may swim in the water to cool off from time to time, but tapirs can’t swim for long periods because they need to stay on land.
12. Brazilian tapirs can hold their breath up to 6 minutes underwater!
13. Tapir babies are called calves or juveniles, and they usually nurse until about two years old before leaving home after that time.
14. Wildlife is often endangered due to deforestation, hunting, illegal pet trade, military, and farming activities.
15. A baby tapir looks more like a potato with legs than an adult