1 minute read

Tapirs: Tapiridae

Behavior And Reproduction

Despite their bulk, tapirs are swift runners and agile climbers. They are able to climb and jump vertical fences or walls measuring 9.8 feet (3 meters) high. They are shy animals and depend on concealment, being hidden, for safety. For this reason, not much is known about their sleep habits. Some tapirs have been seen sleeping in the water. In fact, tapirs will spend extra time in the water during very hot weather, a habit that not only keeps them cool, but protects them from insects. They can even walk on the bottom of rivers and lakes for short periods of time.

Although tapirs prefer the dawn and dusk hours of the day, in densely populated areas the lowland tapir becomes strictly nocturnal, active at night, for its safety. Tapirs generally establish a central location and use the same paths to travel around time after time. They mark their territory with urine and piles of dung, or feces.

Tapirs are more social during the dry season and at full moons and interact at salt licks and river banks. This is also where courtship displays take place. These rituals include grunting and squealing. After a thirteen-month pregnancy, the female secludes herself and gives birth to a single calf. The calf hides in thick shrubbery for the first two weeks, feeding off the mother's milk. After a few weeks, the calf begins foraging, or searching, for food with the mother, and begins to include the food in its diet. Calves nurse, or drink their mother's milk, for up to one year. Though it is not certain, male tapirs in the wild seem to take responsibility for some of the calf-rearing. Tapirs are monogamous (muh-NAH-guh-mus), having only one mate, during the breeding season, but change partners from year to year.

Tapirs live about thirty years in the wild. Aside from humans, it is believed that their main predators include jaguars, pumas, leopards, tigers, and anacondas.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceMammalsTapirs: Tapiridae - Physical Characteristics, Habitat, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Tapirs And People, Lowland Tapir (tapirus Terrestris): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, CONSERVATION STATUS