Sunday, 27 January 2013

What the Tapir is it?

To compare the Tapir to a list of some of the weirdest looking animals in the world, it is definitely up there with the best of them. In some regards due to its stature is is similar to a pig, but then it has a long snout which is like a shortened elephant's trunk. Although the Tapir seems to be a jumble of different animal parts, it is a relatively gentle creature with a kind face.

As the Tapir is not that well a known animal, it is not surprising that all 4 species (the Brazilian Tapir, the Malayan tapir, Baird's Tapir and the mountain Tapir) are classified as either endangered or vulnerable and several other species have already become extinct!

Tapirs are long mammals which a length of around 2 metres long and they stand at around 3 ft high. Their feet is something to look at with interest as they do not have the same number of toes on their front and hind legs; on the front there are 4 toes; and on the back there are 3, which aids in their travels though muddy and soft ground. The most 'strange' feature on the Tapir is that of its snout. The Malayan species has the longest whilst the Brazilian have the shortest, and they use these snouts for sniffing the air looking for mates and food. The Tapir has brilliant hearing which compensates for its lack of good eyesight which is caused by corneal cloudiness.

So the next time, you are asked what your favourite animal is, or if you want your naturalistic knowledge to be on par with the great British Legend  David Attenborough, spare a thought to the odd little Tapir, with its snout and non-matching toes.

Explorer Fact

The gestation of a Tapir is 13 months. When baby Tapirs are born they have a coat of stripes and spots, and as they get older their coat changes to a more uniform brown/ black colour (depending on breed). They can live up to the ripe old age of 30.

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