Tapirs | Tapiridae
Tapirs, or Tapiridae, have a profile of a pig, although they are a little larger than pigs. A short prehensile nose trunk is visible on their heads for cleaning themselves and grabbing branches or food. They have a short coat that can be reddish brown, gray, or black. The ears are oval, rounded, and white, tails stubby and protruding, and toes hooved. The front feet have four toes and the hind feet three toes. They are herbivores that feed in the morning and evening. Tapirs are mostly found in Central and South American forests and grassland and are excellent swimmers.
If you thought tapirs might be relatives of pigs, you are wrong. Scientists say their close relatives are rhinos and horses. Their bodies, which resemble that of a pig or wild hogs with anteater snouts, haven’t changed much over the years. Because of this, they are also called ‘living fossils.’
The biggest problem of tapirs is that they have a slow reproduction rate and are sensitive to habitual destruction. This is leading to their slow extinction in their natural habitat of South and Central America and Southeast Asia. Humans are the ones leading this extinction by disturbing the forest ecosystem and poaching them.
Tapirs are active at night. This is the time they eat and take a dip in the lake or pond. During the day, they will sleep in a place with shelter or underwater to avoid predation. However, the smaller mountain tapir found in the Andes behaves differently, as it is most active during the day.