Fauna of Malaysia



The mouse-deer usually nocturnal.They feed on low bushes and grazing on carpet vegetation.Fruits are an essential part of their diet. The Lesser Mouse-deer or Kancil as the Malays call the species, is an important characters in Malay folklore depicting bravery and intelligence.


A survey carried out 10 years ago found the population of leather-back turtles who came to lay their eggs on the Terengganu beaches to exceed 2,000. However, a recent survey carried out in 1992 showed that less than 100 of these turtles return to lay their eggs.

Owing to this, drifts nets have been banned from being used by fisherman in the area measures are enforced to prevent anyone stealing the eggs which fetch a good price the market. Today these turtles have been added to the list of the country’s protected species.


There are over 700 species of birds in Malaysia. More than half of Malaysia’s birds live in the tropical rainforest. Birds normally build their nests on very tall trees and because of this it is important that these trees are not cut down when logging activities are carried out.
Wherever they are , the best way to see a mere varied species of Malaysian birds will be to visit the lakes, estates, forests, mountains and villages.

Several species of the Malaysian birds :


The Barred Eagle-owl (Bubo sumatranus), Malaysia’s largest strictly nocturnal bird. It feeds on rodens, small birds and reptiles, sometimes inside the caves at Niah.




A Bay Owl, a handsome nocturnal bird of the lowlands of Malaysia. It feeds on small birds, rats and insects.




The Crested Wood Partridge (Rollulus roulroul), a bird which is usually seen on the ground in the lowland forests of Malaysia. Living in small groups, they feed on fallen fruits and insects.



The Red-headed or Ashy Tailorbird, a common, small bird of the lowlands throughout Malaysia. Most abundant in secondary forests and forest edges,it feeds on insects.



Butterflies have time and again been mentioned in many myths as a symbol of good fortune and longevity – an inspiration to many.
Their name is said to have been derived from “butter coloured fly” which best describes the bright-yellow Brimstone butterfly found in northern Europe.

To date over 1,000 species have been recorded and it is expected that many more will be discovered. Most butterflies are active during mid morning and in the late afternoon. In between these active feeding periods, butterflies look out for shady areas to rest. However, there are certain species like the Satyrines which are active only at dawn or dusk.

A sub-family of the Swallowtail butterflies, the Papilioninae and members of this group are forest butterflies. They are fairly common and being large in size, they have strong wings and are mostly found in the hills and lower elevations.

Here are several species of the Malaysian butterflies :


The Rajah Brooke Birdwing is one of Malaysia’s most striking butterflies. It was first discovered by AR Wallace in Borneo in 1855 and was named after Rajah Brooke of Sarawak. It is dubbed as the “princess among the butterfly tribes” due to its excellent beauty and elegance.

It has very long pointed wings. The wings are of deep velvety black with acurved band of spots in metallic green extending across the wings from one tip to the other. Each spot is in the shape of a small triangle.

On the outer margins of its hind wings there are several white touches which contrast the vivid crimson found on its broad neck collar.

The Rajah Brooke’s Birdwing is strictly a jungle species with the male specimens have a wingspan of between 16 to 18 cm and the females between 17 to 19 cm.


The Atlas, one of the largest moths in the world, occurs throughout India and South-east Asia. The striking spiny caterpillars feed on a variety of trees, including Berberis in some localities.



The Red Helen, Papilio helenus (family Papilionidae). This fine swallowtail is widespread and often abundant throughout its range (from Sri Lanka to China and Timor). In Peninsular Malaysia it is more often encountered in the hills than in coastal areas. The caterpillars feed on plants of the orange family, including Citrus.



This beautiful butterfly has a curious, slow, flapping flight. Very similar in overall appearance to the related tree nymphs, or paper butterflies (Idea), these insects feed at the caterpillar stage on plants of the milkweed family.



This butterfly occurs at moderate altitudes in many parts of Peninsular Malaysia, where it can often be seen feeding at composites and other weedy flowers growing beside roads and tracks. In common with all milkweed butterflies, the males have a pair of reversible brushes, or ‘pencils’, at the tip of the abdomen, from which they can release scants essential for successful courtship.




Three species of lacewing are found in Peninsular Malaysia. Although attractive to look at, they emit a disagreeable odour if handled. The brightly-coloured red and brown caterpillars feed on species of passion flower plants and are thought to be chemically protected from some of their potential predators.

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