Species Lists

Species List – Malaysia




Crustaceans        Insects        Bony Fish        Amphibians        Reptiles        Mammals        Birds



Malaysia, comprising the lower part of the Malay Peninsula as well as roughly a third of the island of Borneo, is ranked among the world’s most biodiverse countries. The geographically disparate nature of the country is reflected in diverse cultures, geological wonders that include both the world’s longest cave system and its largest underground chamber, and representatives of some of the most species-rich ecosystems on Earth. On land, Malaysia's territory includes some of the world's oldest and most diverse rainforests; underwater, the wildlife-rich Indian Ocean and South China Sea draw divers to such sites as Sipadan and Lyang-Lyang.


Malaysia's iconic species include the Bornean orang-utan, still found in a small number of sites in Malaysian North Borneo but most often encountered in the Sepilok wildlife rehabilitation centre; proboscis monkeys, another Bornean endemic, can readily be seen in parts of Sarawak and Sabah, several species of hornbills and the spectacular Rajah Brooke's birdwing butterfly. Species of Rafflesiana, the world's largest flowering plant, and several species of pitcher plant are also iconic national images.


The country is one of the wealthiest in Southeast Asia, a status that affords a comparatively high standard for biodiversity protection within its protected areas. Nevertheless, Malaysia is second only to Indonesia in the land area covered by oil palm plantations. The expansion of this form of agriculture, especially in Borneo, does not bode well for the future of the country's unprotected lowland forests. Even within the Gunung Mulu World Heritage Area, the nests of edible swiftlets, are illegally collected outside the prescribed harvesting season.





Malaysia's rich marine habitats, freshwater ecosystems, offshore islands and mangrove forests harbour a diverse array of crabs and prawns; over a hundred species of crabs are known from mangrove habitats alone. Fiddler crabs, of which Malaysia has at least eleven species, may be highly abundant in intertidal habitats where they are an important component of the nutrient recycling process, shredding and burying leaf litter and so aiding in decomposition. Many of Malaysia's freshwater crabs have restricted ranges and are endemic to the country's mountains or offshore islands, making them priority species for conservation.



Land Hermit Crab

Coenobita cavipes

Porcelain Fiddler Crab

Uca annulipes






Peninsular Malaysia alone is home to over 230 species of dragonfly, twice the number known in Europe, and the country is among the richest in the region for this insect group. As a country with large tracts of tropical forest, Malaysia is a haven for a great many insects, including some of the world's largest species of mantis and a wide array of colourful butterflies and beetles. Malaysia's most famous insect resident is Rajah Brooke's birdwing (Trogonoptera brookesiana), a large and spectacular black, green and red member of the swallowtail family.



Bamboo Relict

Devadatta argyoides

Pinhead Wisp

Agriocnemis femina

Painted Waxtail

Ceriagrion cerinorubellum

Red Swampdragon

Agrionoptera insignis insignis

Blue Dasher

Brachydiplax chalybea

Shaded Basker

Tyriobapta torrida

Orange Skimmer

Orthetrum testaceum testaceum

Coppertone Velvetwing

Neurothemis fluctuans


Neurothemis terminata

Atlas Moth

Attacus atlas

Common Mormon

Papilio polytes

Rajah Brooke's Birdwing

Trogonoptera brookiana

Common Birdwing

Troides helena

Varied Eggfly

Hypolimnas bolina

Giant Moth

Lyssa zampa





Situated as it is in the Indo-Pacific region, Malaysia boasts one of world's richest marine fish faunas. There are also at least 614 species of freshwater fish known from the country, with new discoveries still being made on Borneo; in 2006 alone, 30 new species were reported from the island.


Indo-Pacific Sergeant

Abudefduf vaigiensis

Moon Wrasse

Thalassoma lunare





Southeast Asia is second only to South America in amphibian diversity. Malaysia alone has over 200 species, a number of them restricted to Sarawak and Sabah or to small ranges on the Peninsula. The country is perhaps best-known for its horned frogs (genus Megophrys), extremely well-camouflaged species of rainforest leaf litter with a fleshy, forward-pointing 'horn' projecting from above each eye.




Malaysian Horned Frog

Megophrys nasuta

Asian Banded Bullfrog

Kaloula pulchra

Lesser Marsh Frog

Limnonectes paramacrodon

Common Bush Frog

Polypedates leucomystax

Brown Swamp Frog

Hylarana baramica

Black-spotted Rock Frog

Staurois natator





Malaysia's reptile fauna too is characteristically diverse, and includes such charismatic species as the water monitor (Varanus salvator), the world's second largest lizard, the bright black-and-yellow mangrove cat snake, king cobra, and several species of pit viper. There are several species of brightly-coloured 'flying' snake (genus Chrysopelia), flying lizards (Draco spp.) and flying gecko (Ptychozoon spp.), all of which are able to glide short distances between trees. Four species of marine turtle are present, and all are highly endangered in Malaysia due to the pressures of egg collection, pollution and development of their nesting beaches.


Green Sea Turtle

Chelonia mydas

Common Garden Lizard

Calotes versicolor

Green Tree Dragon

Bronchocela cristatella

Blanford's Flying Dragon

Draco blanfordii

Kendall's Day Gecko

Cnemapsis kendallii

Flat-tailed Gecko

Cosymbotes platyurus

Peter's bent-toed gecko

Cyrtodactylus consobrinus


Hemidactylus frenatus

Tokay Gecko

Gekko gecko

Warty House Gecko

Gekko monarchus

Speckled Forest Skink

Eutropis macularia


Eutropis rudis

Water Skink

Tropidophorus brookei

Water Monitor

Varanus salvator

Common Mock Viper

Psammodynastes pulverulentus

Temple Viper

Tropidolaemus wagleri





Malaysia is home to many of South East Asia's most distinctive and charismatic mammals, foremost among them the Bornean orang-utan and the proboscis monkey. The latter is more readily seen in Sarawak and along the Kinabatagan in Sabah than in other parts of the island. Colugos (flying lemurs), elephants, tigers, rhinoceros, pangolins, tarsiers and several other species of primate can all be found in the country, and the Malayan tapir still survives in isolated patches in Peninsular Malaysia. Perhaps Malaysia's most spectacular mammal spectacle, however, takes place every evening around Deer Cave in Gunung Mulu National Park, where one of the world's largest bat colonies streams out of the cave in such high densities that they look like ribbons of smoke.



Cynocephalus variegatus

Bearded Pig

Sus barbatus

Water Buffalo

Bubalus bubalis

Lesser Sheath-tailed Bat

Emballonura monticola

Long-tailed Macaque

Macaca fascicularis

Silvered Langur

Presbytis cristata

Proboscis Monkey

Nasalis larvatus





Malaysia's most iconic birds are of course the hornbills. The country boasts ten species, among them the rhinoceros, great and Oriental pied hornbill (all species beloved of wildlife photographers and documentary filmmakers). These striking birds occur alongside some 620 other species, making Malaysia globally important for this animal group. Although only a very small proportion are endemic, at least 33 of the country's species occur nowhere else.




Lesser Adjutant Stork

Leptoptilos javanicus

Brahminy Kite

Haliaster indus

Black-backed Kingfisher

Ceryx erithacus

Rhinoceros Hornbill

Buceros rhinoceros

Common Myna

Acridotheres tristris

Red-rumped Swallow

Cecropis daurica

House Sparrow

Passer domesticus




West Malaysia

Click anywhere on the map to go directly to the Malaysia species list, or near one of the named hotspots (italicised) to go to the species list for that region.

Disclaimer: This map contains public domain material originally from the the site