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Chevrotains: Tragulidae

Lesser Malay Mouse Deer (tragulus Javanicus): Species Account

Physical characteristics: The lesser Malay mouse deer is neither mouse nor deer, but it is the smallest living artiodactyl (ar-tee-oh-DACK-tuhl), weighing between 3.3 and 5.5 pounds (1.5 and 2.5 kilograms) and measuring 18 to 22 inches (45 to 55 centimeters) from head to rump. The tail is about 2 inches (5 centimeters). The large eyes are surrounded by a lighter ring of fur. The upper coat is brown tinged with orange, and the underside is white. Females are somewhat smaller than males.

Geographic range: Lesser Malay mouse deer are found in Malaysia, Cambodia, southwestern China, Indonesia, Borneo, Laos, Myanmar, Singapore, and Thailand.

Lesser Malay mouse deer were thought to be only active at night, but researchers have found that they are somewhat active during the day, as well. (Erwin and Peggy Bauer/Bruce Coleman Inc. Reproduced by permission.)

Habitat: Lesser Malay mouse deer live in lowland forests. They are also found near water in thick vegetation, hollow trees, and among rocks.

Diet: Lesser Malay mouse deer eat leaves, buds, grass, and fallen fruits.

Behavior and reproduction: Recent studies suggest that this species, once believed to be nocturnal, active at night, and solitary, is actually somewhat active during the day and tends to form monogamous pairs. Lesser mouse deer are territorial and routinely mark their territory. When upset, this species will tap the ground with its hooves at a rate of seven times per second. They will also emit a shrill cry when frightened, but otherwise are silent.

Lesser Malay mouse deer are ready to breed at five to six months. Pregnancy lasts four to five months and produces one fawn, rarely two. The young can stand within thirty minutes of birth and the mother nurses her baby while standing. Offspring are weaned, removed from mother's milk, between ten and thirteen weeks. Within 55 to 155 minutes after they give birth, female lesser Malay mouse deer are able to get pregnant again.

Lifespan of the lesser Malay mouse deer is up to twelve years. Their predators include reptiles and large birds of prey such as owls and hawks.

Lesser Malay mouse deer and people: This species is hunted for its smooth skin, which is used for the production of leather goods such as wallets and handbags.

Conservation status: Although not threatened according to the IUCN, the lesser mouse deer population is threatened by habitat destruction and hunting. Their range and numbers have increased due to conservation efforts. ∎



Morris, Kathy, John Morris, and I. Nyoman Kartana. Mouse Deer and Crocodile: An Asian Folktale. Arlington, VA: Bamboo Books, 1999.

Web sites:

Starr, Christopher K. "Anansi the Spider Man: A West African Trickster in the West Indies." Acarology Conference, August 1999. http://users.carib-link.net/rfbarnes/anansi.htm (accessed on June 1, 2004).

Strawder, N. "Tragulus javanicus." Animal Diversity Web. http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Tragulus_javanicus.html (accessed on June 1, 2004).

"Tragulus javanicus." Ultimate Ungulate. http://www.ultimateungulate.com/Artiodactyla/Tragulus_javanicus.html (accessed on June 1, 2004).

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceMammalsChevrotains: Tragulidae - Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Lesser Malay Mouse Deer (tragulus Javanicus): Species Account - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, CHEVROTAINS AND PEOPLE, CONSERVATION STATUS