Malayan Tapir Facts | Anatomy, Diet, Habitat, Behavior

The Malayan tapir (Tapirus indicus) is an endangered species and it belongs to the family Tapiridae. There are total five species of tapirs out of which Malayan tapir is the largest. The tapir is native to Asia. Malayan tapirs are distinguished by their black and white plumage and long snout. Malayan tapirs are the largest land mammals in the Neotropics.

Malayan Tapir Facts


  • Half of the tapir’s body is all white except the head and legs which are black in color. Adults grow 1.8 and 2.5 m (5 ft 11 in and 8 ft 2 in) in length and a stubby tail adds 5 to 10 cm (2.0 to 3.9 in) in length.
  • The shoulder height of the Malayan tapir is about 90 to 110 cm (2 ft 11 in to 3 ft 7 in).
  • The tapir averages 250 and 320 kg (550 and 710 lb) in weight with some specimen can be as heavy as 540 kg (1,190 lb).
  • Females are larger than the males.
  • Malayan tapirs rely on smelling and hearing sense because they have extremely poor eyesight.
  • They have got small beady eyes which does not help the animal to see in the dark. Malayan tapirs are mostly most active at night.
malayan tapir facts
Malayan Tapir

Range & Habitat

  • Malayan tapirs typically occur all throughout the Southeast Asia including Myanmar, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia, and Laos.
  • It makes habitats in rainforests.
  • The total population of Malayan tapir is 1,500 – 2,000 (estimates: 2008).


  • Malayan tapirs are typically solitary animals and they claim fairly large tracts of land. Sometimes the tapir’s territory seems to overlap with the territory of other animals.
  • They mark territories by urinating on plants.
  • It is thought to become active at night but Malayan tapirs are not nocturnal animals.

Feeding Ecology & Diet

  • Malayan tapirs are herbivorous species. They are likely to consume as many as plant species as 115 however out of these tapirs prefer only 30 species of plants.
  • Tapir chew leaves, aquatic plants, soft twigs, buds, and shoots while slowly foraging on the land.
  • It can also run quite fast when threatened.
  • Tapirs will communicate with each other via high-pitched whistles or squeaks.
  • Malayan tapirs prefer to make homes near water so that they could easily bathe when they must.
  • Tapirs eat before dawn and after dusk but they do take sleep for sometimes at night.
malayan tapir facts
Malayan Tapir in Seattle Woodland Park ©

Reproductive Biology

  • The breeding season is likely to occur in April, May or June.
  • The gestation period lasts 390–395 days after which the female gives birth to one offspring.
  • The newborn babies weigh 15 pounds (6.8 kg) at birth but they grow quickly in their initial years.
  • Young tapirs are typically recognized by their brown hair and white stripes and this allows the animal to camouflage (its body) in the forest.
  • The weaning period occurs 6 – 8 months.
  • The breeding interval is usually of one year.
  • Both parents attain the maturity at 3 years of age.
  • The average lifespan of Malayan tapirs is 30 years in the wild and in captivity.
  • Malayan tapirs don’t seem to have many natural predators in the wild.

Conservation Status


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