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Animal Database
Animal Database
Malayan Tapir
Malayan Tapir
At London Zoo.
Common Name Asian Tapir
Range East Indies
Scientific Classification
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Mammalia
Order Perissodactyla
Family Tapiridae
Genus Tapirus
Species T. indicus
Conservation Status

The Malayan Tapir (Tapirus indicus) is a species from the Tapir genus. It's natural habitat is in the East Indies.

General appearance and characteristics[]

The animal is easily identified by its markings, most notably the light-colored “patch” which extends from its shoulders to its rear. The rest of its hair is black, except for the tips of its ears which, as with other Tapirs, are rimmed with white. This pattern is for camouflage: the disrupted coloration makes it more difficult to recognize it as a Tapir, and other animals may mistake it for a large rock rather than a form of prey when it is lying down to sleep.

Malayan Tapirs grow to between 1.8 to 2.4 m (5 ft 10 in to 7 ft 10 in) in length, not counting a stubby tail of only 5 to 10 cm (2.0 to 3.9 in) in length, and stand 90 to 107 cm (2 ft 10 in to 3 ft 6 in) tall. They typically weigh between 250 and 320 kg (550 and 710 lb), although some adults can weigh up to 540 kg (1,200 lb). The females are usually larger than the males. Like the other types of Tapir, they have small stubby tails and long, flexible proboscises. They have four toes on each front foot and three toes on each back foot. The Malayan Tapir has rather poor eyesight but excellent hearing and sense of smell.

They have a large sagittal crest, a bone running along the middle of the skull that is necessary for muscle attachment. They also have unusually positioned orbits, an unusually shaped cranium with the frontal bones elevated, and a retracted nasal incision. All of these modifications to the normal Mammal skull are, of course, to make room for the proboscis to sit. This proboscis caused retraction of bones and cartilage in the face during the evolution of the Tapir, and even caused the loss of some cartilages, facial muscles, and the bony wall of the nasal chamber.


Malayan Tapirs are located in Southeast Asia, in countries such as Thailand and Burma. They can also be found on the Island of Sumatra. Malayan Tapirs inhabit the forests and tropical rainforests of these countries, and often will remain near sources of water such as streams or rivers.


Malayan Tapirs feed on grasses, fruits, leaves, aquatic vegetation, and twigs.


Sexual maturity is reached at about three years of age and the lifespan is thought to be about 30 years.



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