This week’s top animal is… The Tapir!!!

That’s right, the top animal of this week is the Tapir!

Image By: Elissa Berver

Tapirs are mammals in the same order as horses and rhinoceroses. Compared to those animals, tapirs are a lot smaller, the big ones are only ever a metre tall. I’d say they’re less scary too, since there are no big horns or big strong kicking legs. They can bite if you bother them a lot though!

Most people who have heard of Tapirs probably associate them with Central and South America, but did you know there are also species that live in Asia?

South American Tapir (Image By: Charles J Sharp)
tapir3Asian Tapir (Image By: Sasha Kopf)

The most distinguishing feature of tapirs is their big long snout, or proboscis. It’s really flexible and they can use it to grab things, like leaves that are a bit too high.

Image By: Eric Kilby

Their hooves also have pretty big toes, compared to horses and rhinos.

Image By: Sasha Kopf

When they’re babies, tapirs have different coats. This makes them cuter, and I guess it helps camouflage them from predators.

Adult tapirs don’t need to camouflage themselves, since they’re big, fast and thick-skinned enough that predators need to be pretty desperate to spend energy hunting a tapir.

Image By: Vera Kratochvil

Tapirs are herbivores. They eat all sorts of things from trees. Fruits, berries, leaves. They’re pretty into eating too, they spend a lot of time while they’re awake foraging for food.

When they’re not eating, Tapirs that live near rivers love to swim. On hot days they hop into the water, or mud pits to cool off. If they’re being bothered by parasites, they swim in the water and let fish eat the parasites.

Image By: Open Cage

Unfortunately for tapirs, hunting, habitat loss and fragmentation of groups has greatly affected their ability to survive as a species. All of the extant tapir species are listed as either endangered or vulnerable by the IUCN.

Well, that’s a brief introduction to this week’s top animal, the tapir.

What do you think about tapirs? Is their nose thing cool, or off-putting? Do baby tapir’s coats make them look cute? Do you think they deserve to be one of the TOP animals? Let me know in the comment section below.

Check out the twitter and the tumblr for some extra tapir trivia.
Do you think tapirs are as great as I do? If you want to learn more about tapirs, you can check out these more in-depth resources!

National Geographic
San Diego Zoo

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