Tragulus napugreater mouse-deer

Geographic Range

Larger Malay Mouse Deer are located in Thailand, Indochina, Sri Lanka, the Malayan Penninsula, and the islands of Sumatra and Borneo.


These animals always live close to water and prefer to be in the undergrowth of dense forests.

Physical Description

This mouse deer, first described by F. Cuvier in 1822, is one of the smallest living hoofed mammals, along with the other three species in this genus. This ungulate has a small, triangular head with a small pointed black nose and large eyes. Approximately the size of a rabbit, they have very long and thin legs and a rounded body. The color is orange-brown with white under the stomach, chest and chin. These ungulates do not have any horns or antlers although the males have small tusks (elongated canines) in their upper jaw. When standing, their hind end is higher than their front quarter. Some measurements of the Mouse Deer is that their body length is 70-75 cm, their shoulder height is 30-35 cm and their tail length is 8-10 cm.

  • Range mass
    5 to 8 kg
    11.01 to 17.62 lb


The female spends most of her adult life pregnant. These animals breed year-round with a gestation period of 152 to 155 days and will breed again within a couple of hours after birth. Only one offspring is usually born at a time (twin births are very rare). The offspring are well-developed when born and are able to stand and be fully active 30 minutes after birth. These baby ungulates nurse while standing on three legs. They are weaned at two to three months of age and are sexually mature at four and a half months (living up to sixteen years in captivity).

  • Breeding season
    These chevrotains breed throughout the year.
  • Range number of offspring
    1 to 2
  • Average number of offspring
  • Average number of offspring
  • Range gestation period
    152 to 155 days
  • Range weaning age
    8 to 12 weeks
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    4.5 months
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    Sex: female
    137 days
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    4.5 months
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    Sex: male
    135 days
  • Parental Investment
  • precocial
  • pre-fertilization
    • provisioning
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • female



The larger Malay Mouse Deer is a very solitary creature except during the breeding season. They are nocturnal animals who have very distinct patterns of activity and resting. They create small trails while they travel through the thick brush of the forest. Due to the solitary nature of this species, they have no strict hierarchical structure and fights between males are short bouts of biting with their sharp canines. The males have a large gland on their lower jaw that they rub against females to see if they are ready to mate. When the females are not ready, they simply walk away. Very territorial, the males mark their small and permanent territories with their feces, urine and the secretions from the gland under their jaw. The male of this Mouse Deer beats the ground with his hooves at a rate of four beats per second when agitated or angry. At times the males have been video taped to be standing on one foot only, for no known reason. The females tend to stay in their home territory while the males move around and usually do not spend more than a year in the same place.

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

The larger Malay Mouse Deer has a diet of fallen fruit and berries, aquatic plants, leaves, buds, shrubs and grasses.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Larger Malay Mouse Deer are often used as a source of food for native people. They also make good pets, for they are easily tamed.

Conservation Status

The subspecies Tragulus napu nigricans is listed with the IUCN as endangered. This subspecies is found on Balabac Island southwest of the Philippines. Otherwise, these animals are threatened because of over-hunting and habitat loss through deforestation.

Other Comments

Due to their small size, these creatures are hunted by various carnivores such as large snakes, birds, reptiles and cats.

They are known as "living fossils" because they have changed little in 30 million years.


Heather Lutz (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Phil Myers (editor), Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.


bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.


forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.


offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).


having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


active during the night


found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.

World Map


rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.


remains in the same area


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


lives alone


uses touch to communicate


Living on the ground.


defends an area within the home range, occupied by a single animals or group of animals of the same species and held through overt defense, display, or advertisement


the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.


reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.

year-round breeding

breeding takes place throughout the year

young precocial

young are relatively well-developed when born


Accessed October 14, 1999 at

1990. Grzimek's Encyclopedia Mammals Vol.5. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Publishing Co..

MacDonald, D. 1984. Encyclopedia of Mammals. New York, NY: Facts On File Press.

Medway, L. 1969. The Wild Mammals of Malaya (and Offshore Islands Including Singapore). London: Oxford University Press.

Nowak, R. 1999. Walker's Mammals of The World Sixth Edition, Vol 2. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.