There is a paucity of knowledge regarding the natural ecology and behaviour of all tapirs; previously thought to be solitary, recent evidence suggests that the social organisation consists of pairs, and that tapirs may congregate at salt-licks (7). Typically active between late afternoon and early morning, mountain tapirs rest in dense vegetation for most of the day (8) and are very sure-footed, negotiating perilously steep mountain slopes with apparent ease (5). Like all tapirs, this species is fond of water and wallowing in mud (2). It browses and grazes on a variety of seeds, foliage and shoots, and is an important seed disperser for certain tree species (2). Within an individual's range the major water and food sources, sleeping and feeding areas are connected by well-trodden pathways (5).
The existence of a distinct breeding season is yet to be determined but in the wild tapirs appear to reach sexual maturity at between two and three years old (7). One calf is produced every couple of years, and stays with the mother for between one and two years (7). Mountain tapirs communicate by producing shrill bird-like whistles (8), and males mark the boundaries of their territory by urinating (6).