Scientific Name: Tapirus bairdii
The Baird’s tapir is the largest terrestrial mammal in Central America.
When they are born, tapirs have stripes that are similar to those of a watermelon. It is thought that the stripes help the youngsters blend in with the rainforest. Adult coloration begins to appear at 6 months.
Another distinct characteristic of the tapir is their odd numbered toes. They have four on their front feet, and three on their hind-feet. Because of this characteristic, the tapir belongs to the order Perissodactyla. Other animals in this order, and close relatives of the tapir, are horses, zebras, and rhinoceroses.
STATUS: The Baird’s tapir is listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation in Nature (IUCN). Due to habitat loss, hunting, and competition with humans, the wild population continues to decrease.
HABITAT: The Baird’s tapir is also known as the Central American tapir. They can be found in Belize, Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Colombia. To satisfy their love for water this species of tapir inhabits a variety of humid areas from tropical rainforests, cloud forests to riparian woodlands.
DIET: With their special proboscis (snout), Baird’s tapirs can sift through the floor of the rainforest for food. This herbivore eats fruits, leaves, grasses, and twigs.
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: A Baird’s tapir can weight between 330-660 pounds and can reach a height of about four feet and a length of six feet. They have a brown, bristly coat that fades into a white near their cheeks and chin. An unmistakable feature of the tapir is the dexterous nose. A tapir’s proboscis works like a smaller version of an elephant’s trunk.
All four species of tapir love the water! They spend a lot of their time swimming or simply emerged in a body of water. Their snout can work as a snorkeling device when they swim. It is not surprise that the Baird’s Tapir is found in such humid climate.