Greater Mouse Deer, Tragulus napu

The greater mouse deer (Tragulus napu), also known as the napu or the greater Malay chevrotain, is a species of even-toed ungulate that can be found in Borneo, Sumatra, southern areas of Thailand and Myanmar, peninsular Malaysia, and small Indonesian and Malaysian islands. It also appears on an island off the shore of Singapore, where it was thought to be extinct. It prefers a habitat within lowland tropical and subtropical moist forests. Its scientific name Tragulus is derived from the Greek word Tragos, which means goat, and ulus, which means tiny. The common name of mouse deer does not refer to its species, but rather appearance, as it is not a mouse or a deer. The term “greater” in its common name denotes is larger size as compared to other members of its genus.

The greater mouse deer can reach an average body length between 2.3 and 2.4 feet, with a tail length of up to 3.9 inches and a weight between eleven and eighteen pounds. It has a small head with large, dark eyes and elongated nose. Its legs are long and thin, and it has a rotund body. The fur on the dorsal area of its body can be light grey to light orange, merging into paler fur on the sides and white fur on the underbelly. Males bare small tusks that grow in an upwards angle.

As is typical to mouse deer species, the greater mouse deer is solitary and nocturnal. It uses well-worn paths within its home range to travel and find food. Males will claim territory by scent marking with feces, urine, and an excretion from a scent gland found under its mouth. The male can determine whether a female is ready to mate by using this scent gland. This species is typically docile, but when males are angered, they will beat their hooves on the ground four times per second. The diet of the greater mouse deer consists of fallen fruit leaves, shrubs, grasses, and aquatic plants.

The greater mouse deer is able to breed year round, and females can spend most of their lives pregnant. Males will scent the female with a scent gland located under the chin, but if she is not ready to mate, she will simply walk away. After mating, females will have a pregnancy period of up to 155 days. Young can stand immediately after birth and are typically active thirty minutes later. Maturity is reached at four and a half months of age, and the average lifespan for this species is fourteen years of age. The greater mouse deer is threatened by habitat loss and hunting, but its populations numbers are still high. It appears on the IUCN Red List with a conservation status of “Least Concern.”

Image Caption: Tragulus napu – Mouse Deer. Credit: Brian Gratwicke/Wikipedia (CC BY 2.5)