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 six 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 (from Greek perissos “uneven” + daktulos “finger/toe.”) Other animals in this order, and close relatives of the tapir, are horses, zebras, and rhinoceroses.
All four tapir species love the water. They spend much time swimming or simply immersed in water. Their snouts can function as a snorkeling device when they swim.
Baird’s tapirs inhabit tropical rainforests, cloud forests, and riparian woodlands of Central America.
Tapirs are herbivores, eating fruits, leaves, grasses, and twigs.
- Length: 6 feet
- Height: 4 feet
- Weight: 330–660 pounds