Tuesday, November 30, 2010

ABC Wednesday: T is for Tapir

This is a South American or Brazilian Tapir (Tapirus terrestris). They are about 2m long and have a shoulder height of 1m. At that size, Brazilian Tapirs are the largest land mammals in South America and have few predators - jaguars are known to hunt tapirs and crocodiles will prey on them, too.
Tapirs live secretive lives in the dense rainforest and prefer to keep close to water if there is some in their habitat, they will often seek refuge in the water when something startles them. They can swim very well, but are also surprisingly quick on land.
The snout is very mobile and can be used to grasp small twigs, to dig in the earth and of course for smelling, it's common to see tapirs moving their snout around to be able to smell better, especially when bulls are following the scent of a female, this is called the Flehmen response and looks like this
The babies of all Tapir species look like wild piglets, with stripes and spots that make them invisible in the undergrowth. The mother is pregnant for 13 months and gives birth to a single baby. Tapirs can reach an age of 25-30 years.
They feed on plants, fruit and berries and will follow existing trails in search for food. Tapirs that live near a river or lake will feed on water plants and may even dive to get at them. Like pigs (to whom they are related) they like to wallow in mud to cool off and to get rid of parasites. Edit: I stand corrected - they are not related to pigs, as The Language Hammer pointed out in the comments.
Tapirs are hunted for their meat and skin, but the biggest threat for them is the destruction of their habitat. I have the sad feeling that I've written this phrase in almost all of my animal portraits. If you want to do one thing for the many animals depending on rainforests as their homes, avoid oil palm products - large areas of rainforest are destroyed to make way for oil palm plantations.
What I like most about Brazilian Tapirs are their ears - look at those cute white eartips. The ones at Hagenbeck, where I took all the photos, also like to be scratched and will bliss out when you get to the right spot (one in particular will even start to drool).

What else does T stand for? Find out with ABC Wednesday


Sylvia K said...

I love Tapirs! And this is the first time I've seen a pic of a baby one! How cute he/she is! And the white ear tips are terrific! Love all your captures as always! Hope you have a great week!


Dina said...

They are so cute but look at those teeth!
Did you really get to pet a tapir??

MorningAJ said...

Super post! They have tapirs at Longleat House and I was lucky enough to meet them a few years ago. Their male is a lovely lad called Jethro and he's as soppy as a puppy. He will actually roll over to let you rub his tummy.
Thanks for bringing back happy memories.

Barbara said...

They are amazing looking creatures - glad you put the reminder up about palm oil. It's criminal what we're doing to animals' habitats.

RuneE said...

A very special animal indeed. A pity that humans have to destroy all other species.

Cezar and Léia said...

Oh girl, thanks so much for this post.I'm so homesick, I miss my BRAZIL so much!
ADorable Tapir post!
Hugs from Luxembourg

Tumblewords: said...

Interesting. For some reason, I thought the tapir might be quite a bit smaller. It looks like a rugged and tough animal, to be sure. Thanks!

Roger Owen Green said...

Interesting-looking beast that almost never comes to mind, tho they show up in the daughter's animal books.

ROG, ABC Wednesday team

EG Wow said...

I'm glad you pointed out their interesting ears because I probably would have missed their white ear tips. How sad they are losing their habitat.

Gerald (Ackworth born) said...

A fascinating insight into an animal I've heard of but don't know much about - 13 months is a long pregnancy for such an animal. So far as I know I don't buy nor use palm oil myself.

Joy said...

Never seen the stripy young before. I always love that useful nose.

Wanda said...

Tapirs have the funnest little nose. Love that stripped baby!! How cute it that.

You continue week after week to amaze me with your fabulous photos.

Kay L. Davies said...

Drooling tapirs, what could be more fun than that? Being pregnant for 13 months? LOL
Excellent post. I learned a lot and I, too, love those white ear-tips. How cute is that?
-- K

Kay, Alberta, Canada
An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

The Language Hammer said...

Nice photos and text. One correction though - tapirs aren't related to pigs, but rather horses and rhinoceroses (albeit distantly). They are odd-toed ungulates, like horses and rhinos, but not pigs.

Mar said...

They are cute!! what great tapir shots for the theme!!
T is for ...

Reader Wil said...

What a great post is this about this interesting animal. Thank you for this informative post.