Perissodactyls were represented by a lot more species millions of years ago (in the Paleogene and Neogene periods). There are far fewer species alive (only 15) today, any of which are threatened. The order Perissodactyla includes: Horses, Rhinoceroses and Tapirs.

Characteristics of this order are:

  • All have one or three hooved toes on each hind foot.
  • All eat vegetation, feeding by grazing or browsing
  • High crowned grinding teeth and elongated limbs (like artiodactyls, but not so much with other ungulates)

Families in this order include:

  • Equidae – Horses - 6 species
  • Tapiridae -Tapirs - 4 species
  • Rhinocerotidae – Rhinoceroses -5 species


There are six living species including horses, Asses and Zebras. All have long legs.

  • Equus asinus  - the Wild Ass, native to north & north east Africa
  • Equus caballus -the wild horse (ancestor of the domestic horse) native to Europe through to central Asia

  • Equus hemionus -the half ass, from the middle east through to north western India.

  • Equus quagga
    - the plains zebra
  • Equus zebra -the mountain zebra
  • Equus grevyi - Greys Zebra


There are four living species of tapirs; three coming from Asia, one from central America and two from South America. These are:

  • Tapirus terrestris - the Lowland Tapir
  • Tapirus bairdii - the Baird's Tapir
  • Tapirus pinchaque - the MountainTapir
  • Tapirus indicus - the Malayan Tapir

They are pig like animals in appearance with a snout that is like a short trunk, and a coat of short stiff hairs. They inhabit woodland or semi amphibious forests.

Tapirs have four hooved toes on the forefeet and three on the hind feet.


There are five living species of Rhinoceros, two being indigenous to Africa and three from Asia. They are large animals with a thick skin, nearly hairless, and have horn like structures on the head.

  • Dicerorhinus sumatrensis - Sumatran Rhino
  • Diceros bicornis - Black Rhino
  • Ceratotherium simum - White Rhino
  • Rhinoceros sondaicus - avan Rhino
  • Rhinoceros unicornis -Indian or Greater One Horned Rhino

Pictured: Southern White Rhinoceros

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