What kinds of monkeys live in Malaysia?
If you visit Malaysia, it’s only natural to ask yourself the above question. I mean, who doesn’t want to see monkeys!?
Luckily, there are quite a few species you should be able to find. So, keep reading to learn how to identify each primate. Plus, you are going to learn some fun and interesting facts. Pictures and range maps are also included!
12 monkey species that live in Malaysia:
#1. Long-tailed Macaque
- Macaca fascicularis
Also known as the Crab-eating Macaque or Cynomolgus Monkey.
- Adults are 38-55 cm (15-22 in) long with tails that reach 40-65 cm (16-26 in).
- They have gray or brown coats that grow paler on the underparts and a white strip of hair on the upper lip that looks like a mustache.
Long-tailed Macaques make their home in shrublands, lowland rainforests, and coastal forests. But watch out; these cheeky monkeys in Malaysia might sometimes raid farms or dumpsters for a snack. They’re even known to steal food right from your hand!
Speaking of snacks, these monkeys in Malaysia aren’t picky.
They love fruit, but they’ll also forage for roots, leaves, and small critters. Plus, they’re super smart! They peel sweet potatoes with their teeth, wash their food before eating, and use rocks to bash clams, crabs, and oysters open.
Long-tailed Macaques are social creatures. They live in groups of 20 to 100, mostly made up of females and their young. When the males grow up, they venture out to find a new group of their own. Fights within a group are frequent, but these clever monkeys in Malaysia usually reconcile afterward to keep the peace.
#2. Stump-tailed Macaque
- Macaca arctoides
Also known as the Bear Macaque.
- Adults are 49-65 cm (19-26 in) long. Their hairless tails are only 3-7 cm (1-3 in) long.
- They have bare pink faces that grow more vibrant as they age.
- Their thick coats range from pale to dark brown. You can identify older individuals by their bald spots.
Evergreen and broadleaf forests are home to Stump-tailed Macaques. Thanks to their thick and cozy fur, these resilient monkeys in Malaysia are not afraid of a little cold weather. Unlike most monkeys, they prefer staying on the ground. Their stocky, muscular bodies are built for walking, not swinging among branches!
When it comes to food, fruits are the Stump-tailed Macaque’s favorite. However, they also love munching on leaves, roots, seeds, insects, frogs, and freshwater crabs. If there’s a farm nearby, they may raid the fields for corn, rice, and potatoes. Cleverly, they use their cheek pouches to store food for later consumption.
Stump-tailed Macaques are a remarkably peaceful species. You won’t see much violence within their ranks. If confrontations happen, they quickly resolve these and restore order. Up to 60 members make up a community, with adult males acting as the protectors.
#3. Dusky Leaf Monkey
- Trachypithecus obscurus
Also known as the Spectacled Langur, Spectacled Leaf Monkey, and Dusky Langur.
- Adults are 60-67 cm (24-26 in) long with tails that are 50-85 cm (20-33 in) long.
- They have gray faces and white lips. The white rings around their eyes look like glasses!
- Their coats are shades of brown, black, or gray. The underparts are paler in contrast.
To see Dusky Leaf Monkeys in Malaysia, visit a national park.
These primates are a delightful sight and plentiful on nature reserves. In the wild, they inhabit tropical and coastal forests. Up to 20 individuals form a troop guarded by an alpha male. No need to worry about monkey business, though, because conflicts between groups are rare and usually sorted out quickly!
Dusky Leaf Monkeys are impressively acrobatic, using their long tails for balance as they jump from branch to branch. However, they have a quirky habit of sitting still for long periods, comfy and cozy on their padded bottoms. Their keen eyesight also lets them judge distances with great accuracy.
Though their teeth are specifically adapted to munch on leaves, they also love eating shoots, flowers, and fruits. Dusky Leaf Monkeys have enlarged salivary glands to help break down all that tough cellulose in their food. Plus, the bacteria in their stomachs neutralize any harmful toxins. Quite handy, if you ask me!
#4. Lar Gibbon
- Hylobates lar
Also known as the White-handed Gibbon or Malayan Lar Gibbon.
- Adults are 44-59 cm (17-23 in) long. As apes, they lack tails.
- Take note of the ring of white fur framing their black faces.
- White fur also covers their hands and feet.
- Males range from black to shades of brown, while females are cream or light brown.
Meet the eccentric Lar Gibbon, which is technically not a monkey in Malaysia!
These primates are apes, which is a different family than monkeys. They don’t have tails and tend to be larger and have broader chests than monkeys. Additionally, most apes do not have hair on their faces!
If you’re lucky, you might hear these gibbons singing in pairs to claim their territory. With powerful throat sacs, their voices can be heard up to a 1 km (0.6 mi) radius! They live in close-knit families of two to six members, forming lifelong bonds with their mates.
You won’t want to miss this primate’s acrobatic feats! Despite not having a tail, Lar Gibbons can balance on high branches by holding their long arms above their heads. Plus, this species has special wrist joints to swing through the canopy at speeds up to 56 km/h (35 mph)! They can clear a gap of 8 meters (26.2 feet) between trees in a single leap.
Lar Gibbons have a diet of fruits, shoots, leaves, and insects. However, their favorite food is ripe figs. As the day ends, they retire to the tallest trees, where they amusingly sleep upright. But don’t worry, their rumps are covered with leathery skin, so they don’t fall off!
- Symphalangus syndactylus
- These tailless primates are about 90 cm (35 in) long.
- Their arms are longer than their entire bodies!
- You’ll notice their bald throat sacs inflating to the size of their heads just before they bellow out a call.
- They have thick shaggy coats of black hair.
The Siamang is the largest of all gibbon species. These formidable primates make their home in lowland and mountain forests in Malaysia, especially where there’s an abundance of figs. Considering their size and speed, it’s no wonder they have no natural predators.
Siamangs are a sight to behold as they glide through the treetops with their long arms. The catch, however, is that those long arms make them look clumsy while walking on the ground. They spend most of their day searching for food, and the rest they save for relaxing. Their diet consists of fruits, tender leaves, and occasionally insects.
Siamangs live in close-knit family units of three to six individuals, and adults mate for life. They like to make their presence known to neighboring groups by singing in unison. Just make sure to cover your ears. Siamangs are known to be louder than other gibbons, with calls that can pierce through 2 km (1.2 mi) of dense jungle foliage!
#6. Southern Pig-tailed Macaque
- Macaca nemestrina
Also known as the Sundaland Pig-tailed Macaque, Sunda Pig-tailed Macaque, and Berok.
- Adults are 38-58 cm (15-23 in) long. They have curled, pig-like tails measuring 13-25 cm (5-10 in) long.
- There’s a dark patch of hair on the crown of their heads, and short dark lines run vertically from the outer rims of their eyes.
- Their coats are yellowish brown to gray.
Southern Pig-tailed Macaques are a lively species that gather in bands of 15 to 40 individuals. They are expert climbers, but they prefer walking on land. Male ranks are determined by physical strength, while female ranks are inherited from their mothers. Amusingly, females “kiss” after fighting to make amends.
What makes Southern Pig-tailed Macaques unique among primates is that they love water. So if you happen upon a river, keep an eye out for these monkeys swimming along the currents.
Southern Pig-tailed Macaques split into smaller groups when foraging for food. They climb to the tops of trees in search of their favorite fruits, like papayas and figs. If they’re near a farm, they might even raid a cornfield. One monkey acts as a sentry, and if it spots danger, it will sound an alarm call to alert the troop.
#7. Bornean Orangutan
- Pongo pygmaeus
- Adults are 100-170 cm (39-67 in) long. Males are much larger than females.
- Their arms are way longer than their legs, and their shaggy coats are reddish brown.
- Look for large cheek pads with patchy hair to identify male orangutans!
Get ready to be wowed by the largest tree-dwelling mammal in the world—the Bornean Orangutan! This massive primate has an appetite that matches its size. With over 400 types of food to choose from, 60% of its diet is made up of fruits, with leaves, honey, insects, and bird eggs rounding out its meals. And get this; sometimes, they even eat soil for extra nutrients and minerals!
Living secluded lives in the rainforests of Malaysia, Bornean Orangutans are mostly non-territorial. In fact, neighboring females often share resources. A mother orangutan forms close bonds with her children, with sons visiting her even after they leave home and daughters staying with her longer to learn parenting skills.
Among non-human primates, Bornean Orangutans are perhaps the most intelligent! For example, they fashion umbrellas out of leaves to fend off heavy rain. And, when hunger strikes, they use sticks to probe termite holes for a quick snack. These crafty apes also apply chewed-up leaves on bruises and joint pain. Truly, their intelligence and resourcefulness are second to none!
#8. Proboscis Monkey
- Nasalis larvatus
Also known as the Long-nosed Monkey.
- Adults are 53-76 cm (21-30 in) long, with tails about the same length as their bodies.
- Males are unmistakable! They have large droopy noses measuring 10-18 cm (4-7 in). Females‘ noses are more abruptly angular.
- They have enlarged bellies, and their coats are a blend of orange, brown, and cream-white.
Proboscis Monkeys are truly unique and fascinating creatures in Malaysia.
They’re unsurprisingly the best swimmers among primates. In fact, a normal day for them involves standing on tree branches and belly-flopping into the water below. How fun! Also, they have webbed toes to help them walk through muddy fields.
These monkeys have mastered the art of balancing their diets. They’re big fans of ripe fruits, but they’re careful not to overindulge. Otherwise, they run the risk of dying from bloat. Instead, they stick to a primary diet of leaves which their stomachs are well-suited to.
Up to 26 individuals gather to form a group. At the head of the pack is the alpha male, who serves as the ultimate protector. He alerts his troop with loud honks if he senses predators or rival males nearby. Here’s a fun fact: the size of a Proboscis Monkey’s nose is directly related to the loudness of its calls. So, the bigger the nose, the louder the honk!
#9. Robinson’s Banded Langur
- Presbytis robinsoni
- Adults are 43-61 cm (17-24 in) long with 61-84 cm (24-33 in) long tails.
- You’ll find pale skin below their eyes and on their lips and a triangular tuft of hair on the top of their heads.
- Adults have black coats that grow lighter on the undersides.
Rarely descending from the treetops, Robinson’s Banded Langurs are masters of the canopy. These monkeys in Malaysia form groups of up to 20 members with a unique family dynamic. Females outnumber males 5 to 1, and adults take turns caring for the young. These cute little langurs are born with vibrant reddish fur, making them easier to watch.
Robinson’s Banded Langurs can be picky eaters! If they don’t like what’s on the menu in their area, they’ll move on to a new spot. Fruits are their favorite, but they’ll also chow down on seeds and leaves. With the help of bacteria in their stomachs, they can digest even the toughest plants.
Despite its nervous and elusive nature, this monkey might give you a scare instead. Picture this: you’re strolling through the jungle when suddenly you hear what sounds like a machine gun. But, don’t worry, it’s just one of the territorial calls or predator alarms of this species!
#10. Silvered Leaf Monkey
- Trachypithecus cristatus
Also known as the Silvery Lutung or Silvery Langur.
- Adults are 46-58 cm (18-23 in) long, with tails that are 67-75 cm (26-30 in) in length.
- They sport a dark crest of hair on their heads and tufts of hair on the sides of their black faces.
- They have dark gray body hair that turns silver at the tips.
You’ll need a sharp eye to find Silvered Leaf Monkeys in Malaysia.
If you try to approach, these shy creatures will quickly flee, so bring a pair of binoculars to watch them from afar! They often frequent forests, plantations, and mangrove swamps.
Did you know that Silvered Leaf Monkeys have a unique digestive system? If you peek into their mouths, you’ll find ridged teeth designed to cut and chew leaves. After swallowing, the food passes through a three-chambered stomach. If they have difficulty digesting their fibrous food, they cleverly eat lumps of clay as a cure.
A dominant male Silvered Leaf Monkey leads a group of up to 40 females and their offspring. While they’re typically peaceful, these monkeys will sometimes engage in territorial disputes with other groups. Thankfully, adult males will try to chase each other away before they resort to biting and slapping. At night, the whole group takes refuge in a single tree.
#11. Sunda Slow Loris
- Nycticebus coucang
Also known as the Greater Slow Loris.
- Adults are 27-38 cm (11-15 in).
- Dark rings frame their enormous eyes. They also have small, round ears and short muzzles.
- You’ll notice a dark strip of fur running from their foreheads and across their backs.
- They have brown coats with contrasting pale underparts.
Native to tropical rainforests in Malaysia, Sunda Slow Lorises are shy yet charming creatures. These little furballs know how to stay hidden from predators as they crawl slowly across branches to forage for food at night. Once the sun comes up, they curl into a ball and fall asleep.
Don’t be fooled by their cute appearance—these critters pack a nasty bite! Sunda Slow Lorises secrete poisonous oil from their elbows and rub it on their fur to make themselves less appetizing to predators. It’s best to let them go about eating tree sap, juicy fruits, nectar, and bugs.
Although they tend to live alone, Sunda Slow Lorises are friendly with their neighbors. Their anuses leave behind certain scents to mark where they’ve been. Though they don’t meet often, they’re always aware of each other’s whereabouts!
#12. White-thighed Surili
- Presbytis siamensis
Also known as the Pale-thighed Langur.
- Adults are 41-69 cm (16-27 in) in length. They also have 58-85 cm (23-33 in) tails.
- Note the dark fur on their foreheads and their fluffy white cheeks.
- White fur covers their outer thighs.
- They have grayish-brown fur on their backs and pale fur on their underparts.
White-thighed Surilis are some of the most bashful monkeys in Malaysia!
They will scurry away as soon as they spot you. They live in small family units: a few juveniles, two to four females who take turns caring for infants and a male patriarch who keeps watch for predators. He’ll let out a loud call to warn the others if danger is near.
Despite their skittish nature, White-thighed Surilis are lovable. This playful langur loves to climb, leap and swing through the rainforests and swamps of Malaysia. When it gets tired, you might catch one dozing off on a sturdy branch, limbs and tail hanging from the sides.
With specialized digestive systems, White-thighed Surilis can chow down on fibrous leaves that other monkeys can’t digest. The bacteria in their guts can neutralize toxins that may sneak into their diets. They also love snacking on fruits and seeds.
For more information about animals in Malaysia, check out these guides:
Which of these monkeys in Malaysia is your favorite?
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