Scientific Name: Tragulus napu
Chevrotains are considered the most ancient of ruminants (animals who chew cud). They are thought to be an evolutionarily intermediate form between pigs and deer. Chevrotains are considered a “living fossil” because they have remained virtually unchanged for nearly 30 million years.
Larger Malay chevrotains are shy, secretive, solitary and extremely territorial little animals. They mark their small territories with urine, feces and glandular secretions produced by glands located in their lower jaw.
STATUS: Larger Malay chevrotains are listed as Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), but their numbers are declining due to habitat destruction and hunting by native peoples.
HABITAT: Larger Malay chevrotains inhabit tropical rainforests in Southeast Asia, including Malaysia and Indonesia.
DIET: Their diet consists of fruits, leaves, buds, grasses, and other soft browse.
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: The larger Malay chevrotain is one of the smallest ruminating animals. They stand no taller than twelve to fourteen inches at the shoulder and weigh between nine and thirteen pounds. Chevrotains have stocky bodies, strongly arched backs and short, thin legs. They have limited agility. Male chevrotains are generally smaller than females. Their fur is orangey-brown in color. The upper canines of the males protrude from the mouth, making it appear as if they have small tusks. They do not have horns or antlers. They have a four-chambered ruminating stomach, but the third chamber is reduced in size and not fully functioning.
Hard to Classify
There are several species of chevrotains, including the larger Malay chevrotain, and all are commonly referred to as mouse-deer. This is a misleading nickname, however, since chevrotains belong to the family Tragulidae, while true deer belong to the family Cervidae and have antlers. The name chevrotain actually comes from the French word chevre, meaning goat. This is also misleading, since goats belong to the family Bovidae and have horns. Thus, chevrotains are truly in a class of their own!