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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 05, 2021

Tarpan Facts: You’ll Never Forget

Tarpan facts are all about a unique and extinct European wild horse.

Tarpan is an extinct species of European wild horse belonging to the family Equidae. These wild horses originated from the horses that migrated from North America to Eurasia in the late ice age. The name 'Tarpan' is derived from the Turkic or Kazakh language, which means wild horses. They were predominantly found in both eastern and western Europe. Cave paintings of Tarpans have been discovered in the Cave of Altamira in Spain and Lascaux in France. They were quite untamed in nature, unlike the domesticated breeds of the modern horse. Some archaeological data suggests a link between Tarpan and modern horse.

Tarpans lived from the Pleistocene to the modern age. However, they became extinct during the early 20th century. From the 16th century onwards their population was decreasing in number in Europe. The reasons being the destruction of habitat, hunting by the locals, and interbreeding with other species of wild horses. In Polish farms, they were cross-bred with domestic breeds, which produced Konik horses. The Koniks are considered to be descendants of the European wild horse as they share some similar characteristics.

If you liked reading about Tarpan horse facts, then do check out horse and Clydesdale.

Tarpan Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Tarpan?

Tarpan was a species of wild horse belonging to the family Equidae. It lived from the Pleistocene to the modern period. However, it became extinct in the 20th century in Russia.

What class of animal does a Tarpan belong to?

Tarpans belonged to the class Mammalia. The scientific name of Tarpan is Equus ferus ferus.

How many Tarpans are there in the world?

Currently, there is no existing individual present in the world.

Where does a Tarpan live?

Wild Tarpan was one of the horse species that migrated from North America to Eurasia. The breed range extended from western Europe to Alaska. The Tarpan breed was also found in Russia, Spain, Poland, and the southern parts of France. They also resided in the Camargue, Great Britain, and southern parts of the Swedish upland. The Tarpan also lived in Denmark and Germany. They were last traced in a zoo in Russia before they became extinct.

What is a Tarpan's habitat?

Tarpans have been classified into two sub-groups based on their habitat. These two sub-breeds are forest Tarpan and steppe Tarpan. Forest Tarpan preferred to stay in temperate forest habitats filled with trees, shrubs, and grasses. These forests do not have an extreme temperature, and the trees are characterized by thin, wide leaves. Steppe habitat consists of plain grassland with very few trees. The Eurasian steppe particularly comprises savanna, shrubland, and temperate grassland.

Who do Tarpans live with?

These horses lived in small groups commonly known as herds to protect themselves from predators. It consisted of 3-20 individuals.

How long does a Tarpan live?

These European wild horses had a life expectancy of 25-30 years.

How do they reproduce?

Horses in the Equidae family are polygamous in nature, having more than one partner. The stallions have a distinct mating call to attract the mates. The gestation period or the time gap between conception and birth last for 335 days in females. The mares usually give birth to one foal. It is precocial or well developed at birth. The weight of the foals ranges from 55.1-66.1 lb (25-30 kg). The mares also have an estrous cycle which resumes shortly after birth. The foals do not reach breeding maturity until the age of four to five in females, while six to seven in males. Since Tarpan horses belong to the modern family Equidae, it can be assumed that they had a similar method of breeding.

What is their conservation status?

They are one of the extinct subspecies of wild horses. The last individual died in captivity in the year 1909. Destruction of habitats and intense hunting for meat are the major reasons behind their extinction. Another factor responsible for their extinction is interbreeding with other domestic horse breeds.

Tarpan Fun Facts

What do Tarpans look like?

The Tarpan breed had a dun-colored coat.

The appearance of the Tarpan (Equus ferus ferus) is reconstructed through archaeological data and from sources in history. They were 55-57 in (1.3-1.4 m) tall and 70.8 in (1.8 m) long. Their physical characteristics include pointed muzzles, standing mane, dun or grey colored coat, and dorsal stripes extending along its back. This breed also had stripes on its shoulders. The pattern of their mane is disputed as some data suggests they had a falling mane. Their head was thick, and the legs were dark in color. Their coat colors evolved through the ages and were mostly shades of brown, tan, cream, black, or brown.

How cute are they?

The cuteness of the Tarpan breed usually stemmed from their appearance. Their grey coats, dorsal stripes, and the presence of frizzy mane made them an attractive breed.

How do they communicate?

They communicated, like other horses, through a range of vocalizations and body language. The Tarpan breed used their whiskers, muzzles, and nostrils to perceive their surroundings. Their eyes and ears were the chief visual and auditory receptors. These mares emitted a low-pitched sound while nurturing her foal. The mating calls of the stallion were usually screams or grunts. Snorting was also another form of communication that signified danger from predators.

How big is a Tarpan?

The Tarpan was around 55-57 in (1.3-1.4 m) tall, and the length of their body was 70.8 in (1.8 m). It was slightly shorter in length than Przewalski's horse, another species of wild horse.

How fast can a Tarpan run?

Not much is known about the exact speed of the Tarpan. However, it can be assumed from history that Tarpan horses could run at a speed of 40 mph (64.3 km/hr), like the other member of the Equidae family.

How much does a Tarpan weigh?

The Tarpan weighed around 1000 lb ( 453 kg).

What are their male and female names of the species?

A male Tarpan was commonly called a stallion, while a female Tarpan was called a mare.

What would you call a baby Tarpan?

It was commonly referred to as foal.

What do they eat?

They were herbivores, and their diet included grasses, shrubs, grains, and hay. They obtained their food mostly by grazing on pastures and hay stocks.

Are they dangerous?

Although they were domesticated, the breed still held onto their wild nature. They refused to accept submission in captivity, unlike the other domesticated horses. They were regarded as potentially harmful to humans. They were difficult to train and injured people who tried to handle them.

Would they make a good pet?

Yes, they would have made a good pet. However, it was hard to tame them owing to their wild temperament.

Did you know...

An experiment to create a genetic copy of the extinct Tarpan (Equus ferus ferus) was performed by two German zoologists, Heinz Heck and Lutz Heck. They were known as the Heck brothers. Mares of Gotland horse, Icelandic horse, and Konik horse were bred with a stallion of Przewalski's horse to create this genetic copy. This back-breeding experiment by the heck brothers turned out to be unsuccessful, giving rise to a hybrid species called the heck horse. These hybrid horses do bear some similarities with the Tarpan, like the color of the coat, stature, and dorsal stripes. However, the Heck horse (Equus ferus caballus) is not considered to be a wild horse.

Why did the Tarpan become extinct?

The extinction of these wild horses began in Southern parts of Europe. They disappeared from Western Europe in the 16th century. Their population started decreasing in Eastern Europe during this period. Advancement in agriculture and urbanization led to the destruction of their natural habitat. They were victims of intense hunting for their meat, enriched with protein. They also angered the local farmers by stealing domestic mares and damaging crops. Moreover, the farmers faced economic loss by interbreeding these wild tarpan with other wild horse breeds, as the fouls produced after mating were uncontrollable. The last individual of these Eurasian wild horses died in captivity in a Russian zoo in 1909. Several attempts were made in Poland to preserve their population. The Koniks, originating from Poland, are believed to be descendants of Tarpan horses. In Polish farms, Tarpans were cross-bred with domestic horses, which resulted in a hybrid species called Konik.

How did the Tarpan horse get its name?

The name 'Tarpan' is derived from Turkic, also known as the Kazakh language, which means wild horse.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals including zonkey, or mule.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our Tarpan horse coloring pages.

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