Malayan Tapir

Malayan Tapir  Tapirus indicus

Type of Animal:

Tropical forest, river basins, swamps, alpine scrub, grassy clearings, cultivated areas, rubber plantations, open fields, forest edge, marshes, rivers, valley bottoms

Sumatra, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Burma

Black head and legs w/ large white saddle, long black snout. No mane on neck. Calves look like watermelons w/ legs when young, getting adult coloration after a few months.

Grasses, aquatic plants, buds, soft twigs, green shoots, leaves, fruit, shrubs, berries, mosses, small branches

Status in Wild:

Breeding in zoos & wildlife parks

Solitary, though sometimes found in male-female pairs

Additional Info:


Male-660-740 lbs
Female-760-900 lbs
Young-200 lbs

13 months

Male-3.4 ft
Female-4.2 ft

Body Length:
7.5-10 ft

Life Span: 
25-30 years

Tail Length:
1.92-3.96 in

Main predators are tigers, leopards, & crocodiles.

Tapirs fight with teeth, biting at each other.

Very elusive & hard to find in wild due to often nocturnal habits.

Tough skin for protection against predators. Will flee into water or, in the case of females w/ calves, attack w/ canine teeth.

Largest of 5 tapir species & only one not found in C or S America.

Each male territory has 3-4 female territories within.

Due to diet, play important role as seed dispersers. Sometimes called “gardeners of the forest” for this role.

Endangered due to habitat loss, deforestation, hunting for food/sport/hide, agriculture, flooding from hydroelectric projects, cattle grazing, & illegal wildlife trade.

Mark territory by spraying urine on plants.

They’re excellent swimmers, using snout as snorkel.

They can stay underwater for up to 7 minutes.

Communicate w/ high-pitched squeaks.

Besides being used as a snorkel, they can also use snout to obtain food since it’s prehensile.

Fun Fact(s):
Generally docile unless provoked or female protecting calf. Their canine teeth are quite capable of biting an arm off.

Though they might look like pigs, closest relatives are horses & rhinos.

In Thai, known as “P’som-sett” meaning “mixture is finished” based on belief that tapir was created from leftover parts of other animals.

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