Monday, June 20, 2011

The tapir is a jungle animal

The tapir is a jungle animal that is classified as a herbivore mammal. Tapirs are further classified into four subspecies: Brazilian, Malayan, Mountain, and Baird. Tapirs can be found in jungles around South America, Southeast Asia, and Central America. Due to the odd distribution of their toes, tapirs are closely related to rhinoceros and horses. Tapirs are sometimes called "bush hogs" by English Creole speakers.

Tapirs are large animals that can weigh up to 700 pounds. They can grow as long as a meter tall and seven feet long. Their coats of hair are usually dark gay, brown, or black. Newborn tapirs often have patterned coats that serve as camouflage to help them avoid detection by predators. They have hoofed toes, four in the front and three in the back. They have pig-like snouts which help them smell, groom and feed.

Tapirs enjoy roaming their jungle habitats always staying close to a water source. They enjoy wallowing in mud to keep themselves cool and to gain a protection layer against pesky insects. With the exception of their immediate family, tapirs are known to be mostly solitary. Females will typically give birth to one baby every two years. Their gestation period of 13 months, one of the longer periods for mammals.

In the jungle environments, tapirs face many dangerous predators such as tigers, jaguars, alligators, and anacondas. Tapirs are very agile and fast despite their girth. All tapir subspecies are sadly endangered, mostly due to hunting, climate change, and the destruction of their natural habitats.

Tapirs are hoofed mammals and animals with large bodies, short legs, and head of short, flexible trunk, small eyes and erect ears. These animals live in forests and grassy areas in Central and South America, and Asia. When tapirs are threatened, they will flee into water or into the bush to save himself.

Tapirs eat the leaves, fruits, and other crops. Tapirs enemies other than man is a member of the cat family. Cat habitat is reduced due to hunting and deforestation, so the two species are found in the northern Andes and Panama in danger of extinction.

Tapirs look something like pigs with trunks, but they are actually related to horses and rhinoceroses. This eclectic lineage is an ancient one—and so is the tapir itself. Scientists believe that these animals have changed little over tens of millions of years.

Tapirs have a short prehensile (gripping) trunk, which is really an extended nose and upper lip. They use this trunk to grab branches and clean them of leaves or to help pluck tasty fruit. Tapirs feed each morning and evening. During these hours they follow tunnel-like paths, worn through the heavy brush by many a tapir footstep, to reach water holes and lush feeding grounds. As they roam and defecate they deposit the seeds they have consumed and promote future plant growth.

Though they appear densely built, tapirs are at home in the water and often submerge to cool off. They are excellent swimmers and can even dive to feed on aquatic plants. They also wallow in mud, perhaps to remove pesky ticks from their thick hides.

New World tapirs generally live in the forests and grasslands of Central and South America. A notable exception is the mountain (or woolly), tapir, which lives high in the Andes Mountains. Woolly tapirs, named for their warm and protective coat, are the smallest of all tapirs.

The world's biggest tapir is found in the Old World—Southeast Asia. The black-and-white Malay tapir can grow to 800 pounds (363 kilograms). It inhabits the forests and swamps of Malaysia and Sumatra.

All four tapir species are endangered or threatened, largely due to hunting and habitat loss.

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