West indian manatee Brenna Hunter

Scientific name

Trichechus manatus

range

Inland waterways of Central America and along the northern coast of South America

diet

Manatees are omnivores so they eat Mangrove leaves, turtle grass, and many types of algae. Some Manatees have even been known to eat small fish from nets.

This manatee is enjoying some tasty plant lunch!

Physical description

Most manatees weigh about 900-1200 pounds. The average calf is about 4 feet long and they only weigh 60 pounds. Adult manatees can be up to 10 feet long! They live a long time, to about 60 years.

Breeding info

Manatees have only one baby at a time, they have no litters. They are mammals, so they have live births and do not lay eggs. Sometimes manatees will have "nests" nearby trees, but manatees stay mostly in water because of their flippers. Babies are born able to swim, so no nest is required.

A mother and her calf

Unique anatomy

Because the manatee is a close relative of an elephant, they have large prehensile upper lips that can move independently of each other. Manatees are also one of the few mammals that keep replacing their teeth their entire lives. Another odd anatomy part is that manatees don't really have necks. Also, they have nails! This helps them use their flippers for swimming, crawling, and eating.

"Hi there!"-Manatee

WEIRD + interesting info

Manatees actually are really slow animals, really slow. All three species of manatee are considered endangered, and it is illegal to ride them or hug them. There is already an extinct type of manatee, the Steller's Sea Cow.

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Credits:

Created with images by USFWS/Southeast - "West Indian manatee" • James St. John - "Trichechus manatus latirostris (Florida manatees) (Captiva Island, Florida, USA) 9" • USFWS Headquarters - "Endangered Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus), Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge" • kthypryn - "Manatees at the zoo 4-10-09" • kthypryn - "manatee" • dustin.askins - "Manatee"

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