Fun South American Tapir Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
Jan 19, 2023 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 06, 2021
Fact-checked by Katherine Cook
South American Tapir Facts For Kids

Along with the South American or the Brazilian tapir, there are three other species of tapirs across the world. These can be named the Malayan tapir, Baird's tapir, and the mountain tapir.

Tapirs are animals related to the rhino family and are also confused with elephants due to their small trunk-like nose. They use this long nose to grab their food like fruits, leaves, or grasses while grazing.

As their habitat also consists of water, these tapirs might run and hide completely under the water to save themselves from predators. They can stay underwater by keeping the tip of their snout outside water to breathe.

Tapirs have a herbivorous diet and they live in a habitat that serves them easy access to their food supply. These animals are considered to be one of the largest mammals in the South American regions.

Continue reading for more interesting facts about these South American tapirs. To know more about similar animals, check out our articles on the gazelle and Cedros Island mule deer.

South American Tapir Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a South American tapir?

The South American tapir is also known as the Brazilian tapir or lowland tapir and is an animal related to rhinos and belongs to the family of Tapiridae.

What class of animal does a South American tapir belong to?

This species of tapir belongs to the genus Tapirus and the class of Mammals.

How many South American tapirs are there in the world?

All the species of tapir namely the mountain tapir, Baird's tapir, Malayan tapir, the South American, Brazilian tapir, and the lowland tapir are all considered vulnerable and close to becoming endangered according to the IUCN Red List. There is still no exact data of the South American tapir (Tapirus terrestris) population in the world.

Where does a South American tapir live?

This species mainly breeds in the regions of South America. Apart from Central and South America, they are also found in parts of Brazil, known as Brazilian tapirs. One can spot them in Venezuela, Columbia, Argentina, and the Amazon rainforest.

What is a South American tapir's habitat?

This species of tapir (Tapirus terrestris) is usually seen in forests and grass plains. They also prefer coastal areas with water, swamps, and rainforests with moist habitats. They are largely found in the lowlands, which is one of the reasons why this species is also called a lowland tapir.

Who do South American tapirs live with?

Most Brazilian tapirs are known to be solitary. Although, there have been recent records observed by the tapir specialist group that states that these animals might graze in their small groups. The young ones are known to live with their mothers.

How long does a South American tapir live?

This endangered range of South American or Brazilian tapirs is known to be hunted by humans or their predators in the wildlife. They have an average lifespan of 25-30 years in captivity, especially in wildlife conservation areas.

How do they reproduce?

This species of tapir, Tapirus being its genus, is known to breed during May and June. These are seasonally monogamous animals.

The females mate with one partner for one season and are known to go through the longest gestation period amongst most mammals.

The females are pregnant for a span of 13 long months and hence, they give birth only once in two years.

The baby tapirs are known to live with their mothers for a span of one and a half years or around 18 months as they need to be protected from predators like jaguars and crocodiles that are hiding in the forests.

A young tapir is known to have a brown body with stripes all over with just three to four toes on each of its feet like the adults.

What is their conservation status?

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, the population range of this tapir species is marked as Vulnerable and close to Endangered.

All four species of tapir namely the Malayan tapir, Baird's tapir, Brazilian or South American tapir, and the mountain tapir is going extinct due to poaching, hunting practices, and their slow birthing cycle.

South American Tapir Fun Facts

What do South American tapirs look like?

These Brazilian tapirs have a dark brown huge body. This endangered species of Brazilian tapir or the lowland tapir is known for its light-colored face with a small and flexible trunk and round ears.

The Brazilian tapir has four toes on the front legs and three toes on the hind legs, which helps it to run quickly.

Baby tapirs on the other hand have a lighter shade of brown with white stripes all over their body. The young ones take around one to two years to grow the trunk and develop their body into an adult lowland tapir.

Fun South American Tapir Facts For Kids

How cute are they?

The cuteness of these tapirs is subjective to everyone.

How do they communicate?

This species of Brazilian tapir has a high-pitched voice that they use to communicate with each other. They use this call especially when they see predators nearby. They also make nasal-snorting sounds when they are angry.

How big is a South American tapir?

This Brazilian tapir can grow as big as 70.8-98.4 in (1.8-2.5 m). They have a height range of 30-43 in (77-108 cm) and are considered to be the largest animal in South America. This tapir can grow as big as the size of a Borneo elephant.

How fast can a South American tapir run?

Even though the exact speed of these tapirs is unknown, they are known to be fast runners who can travel short distances quickly. Tapirs are also known for their good swimming skills.

How much does a South American tapir weigh?

This species of tapirs can weigh anywhere between 330-710 lb (150-320 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

This population of tapirs does not have separate names based on gender.

What would you call a baby South American tapir?

This species of tapirs have babies with stripes on their bodies and are called calves.

What do they eat?

Just like Asian elephants, this species of Brazilian tapirs is known to be herbivorous in nature. The tapir specialist group has observed that their diet includes leaves, small branches from trees, and grasses in the forest.

They use their long nose to grab and wrap around their food.

As they are also seen near the water or wetlands, their habitat promotes a good supply of aquatic plants, buds, and shoots for them to feed on. The diet of this population also consists of fruits that are easily available in their wildlife.

Are they dangerous?

Even though these animals look huge and are considered to be one of the largest animals in South America, they are shy and docile in nature. Hence, they are not as dangerous as they may appear.

Would they make a good pet?

Most of the population of tapirs is known to live in wildlife conservation. It is advised for people to not own any types of tapirs as pets.

Did you know...

Tapirs usually poop inside the water so that the foul smell of their defecation does not spread around.

What is the temperament of a South American tapir?

Even though this species of the tapir is shy and docile, they can be aggressive whenever they face any danger in the forest.

What are the adaptations of a gazelle?

South American tapirs are mainly nocturnal and shy creatures. They love their habitat adaptations to focus on lowland forest areas or wetlands. They are great swimmers and divers, and can be aggressive too.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals from our royal antelope facts and dorcas gazelle facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable South American tapir coloring pages.

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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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Fact-checked by Katherine Cook

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Geography

Katherine Cook picture

Katherine CookBachelor of Arts specializing in Geography

A geography graduate from the University of Exeter, with a passion for exploring the world around her. Katherine spent her third year studying at the University of Wollongong in Australia, where she immersed herself in the local culture and adventure activities.

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