Lesser mouse-deer

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Lesser mouse-deer
Dschungelhaus in Hellabrunn 6626.jpg
A lesser mouse-deer in a German zoo
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Tragulidae
Genus: Tragulus
T. kanchil
Binomial name
Tragulus kanchil
Raffles, 1821
Range Tragulus kanchil.png

The lesser mouse-deer, lesser Malay chevrotain, or kanchil (Tragulus kanchil) is a species of even-toed ungulate in the family Tragulidae.



The lesser mouse-deer is found widely across Southeast Asia in Indochina, Myanmar (Kra Isthmus), Brunei, Cambodia, China (Southern Yunnan), Indonesia (Kalimantan, Sumatra and many other small islands), Laos, Malaysia (Peninsular Malaysia, Sarawak and many other small islands), Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.


It is one of the smallest known hoofed mammals, its mature size being as little as 45 cm (18 inches) and 2 kg (4.4 lb) and related to the even smaller Java mouse-deer. It is threatened by predation by feral dogs.

Adult lesser mouse deer from Singapore Adult Lesser mouse-deer (Tragulus kanchil), Singapore - 20141001.jpg
Adult lesser mouse deer from Singapore

Through further research it is also discovered that the creatures who were initially believed to be nocturnal actually conduct their activities during the day. As discovered by Kusuda, the first being that though many births occur in May, November or December, the females are able to reproduce throughout the year (Kusuda et al).


In Indonesian and Malaysian folklore, the mouse-deer Sang Kancil is a cunning trickster similar to Br'er Rabbit from the Uncle Remus tales, even sharing some story plots. For instance, they both trick enemies pretending to be dead or inanimate, [2] [3] and both lose a race to slower opponents. [4] [5]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Chevrotain</span> Family of mammals belonging to even-toed ungulates

Chevrotains, or mouse-deer, are small even-toed ungulates that make up the family Tragulidae, the only extant members of the infraorder Tragulina. The 10 extant species are placed in three genera, but several species also are known only from fossils. The extant species are found in forests in South and Southeast Asia, with a single species, the water chevrotain, in the rainforests of Central and West Africa. They are solitary or live in pairs, and feed almost exclusively on plant material. Chevrotains are the smallest hoofed mammals in the world. The Asian species weigh between 0.7 and 8.0 kg, while the African chevrotain is considerably larger at 7–16 kg (15–35 lb). With an average length of 45 cm (18 in) and an average height of 30 cm (12 in), the Java mouse-deer is the smallest extant (living) ungulate or hoofed mammal, as well as the smallest extant even-toed ungulate.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Philippine mouse-deer</span> Species of mammal

The Philippine mouse-deer, also known as the Balabac chevrotain or pilandok, is a small, nocturnal ruminant, which is endemic to Balabac and nearby smaller islands southwest of Palawan in the Philippines. The genus Tragulus means 'little goat' and the Philippine mouse-deer has been named so due to the horizontal pupils of the eyes. This position of the pupil allows for an increase in peripheral depth perception. It has traditionally been considered a subspecies of the greater mouse-deer. In 2004, though, T. nigricans was separated from T. napu as its own species due to differences in skull morphology. Contrary to its common name, the Philippine mouse-deer does not belong to the deer family Cervidae, but is a member of the chevrotain family.

The small pencil-tailed tree mouse or lesser pencil-tailed tree mouse is a species of arboreal rodent in the family Muridae. It is endemic to Borneo where it is only known from Sabah and Sarawak (Malaysia) and from southern Kalimantan (Indonesia), although it likely occurs more widely.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ethiopian amphibious rat</span> Species of rodent

The Ethiopian amphibious rat also known as the Ethiopian water mouse is an insectivorous and semiaquatic species of rodent in the monotypic genus Nilopegamys of the family Muridae. There has only been one known specimen. It was found along the Lesser Abay River near its source at an altitude of 2600 m in the highlands of northwestern Ethiopia in 1928. N. plumbeus is considered to be the most aquatically adapted African murid; its unusually large brain is thought to be one consequence of this lifestyle. The species is considered to be critically endangered or possibly extinct, since its habitat has been severely damaged by overgrazing and monoculture.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Java mouse-deer</span> Species of mammal

The Java mouse-deer is a species of even-toed ungulate in the family Tragulidae. When it reaches maturity it is about the size of a rabbit, making it the smallest living ungulate. It is found in forests in Java and perhaps Bali, although sightings there have not been verified.

<i>Tragulus</i> Genus of mammals

Tragulus is a genus of even-toed ungulates in the family Tragulidae that are known as mouse-deer. In Ancient Greek τράγος (tragos) means a male goat, while the Latin diminutive –ulus means 'tiny'. With a weight of 0.7–8.0 kg (1.5–17.6 lb) and a length of 40–75 cm (16–30 in), they are the smallest ungulates in the world, though the largest species of mouse-deer surpass some species of Neotragus antelopes in size. The mouse-deer are restricted to Southeast Asia from far southern China to the Philippines (Balabac) and Java.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Greater mouse-deer</span> Species of mammal

The greater mouse-deer, greater Malay chevrotain, or napu is a species of even-toed ungulate in the family Tragulidae found in Sumatra, Borneo, and smaller Malaysian and Indonesian islands, and in southern Myanmar, southern Thailand, and peninsular Malaysia. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical, moist, lowland forest.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Vietnam mouse-deer</span> Small hoofed mammal lost until November 2019

The Vietnam mouse-deer, also known as the silver-backed chevrotain, is an even-toed ungulate in the family Tragulidae known only from Vietnam. It was first described in 1910 by British zoologist Oldfield Thomas, who procured four specimens from Nha Trang in Annam. Little is known about its distribution and ecology. After 1910, the Vietnam mouse-deer was reported next in 1990 near Dak Rong and Buon Luoi in the Gia Lai Province. With increasing hunting pressure, habitat loss due to deforestation and no more reports of the species in the wild, the mouse-deer was feared to have gone extinct. The IUCN listed the species as Data Deficient in 2008. In 2019, a study confirmed the presence of the Vietnam mouse-deer in dry low-lying forests of southern Vietnam with camera trap evidence. The mouse-deer is characterised by a rough coat with a strange double-tone coloration unseen in other chevrotains; the front part of the body is reddish brown and contrasts strongly with the greyish posterior. It has big reddish brown ears, white and dark reddish brown marks on the throat.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Br'er Rabbit</span> Fictional rabbit in Uncle Remus folklore

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Trickster</span> Literary archetype

In mythology and the study of folklore and religion, a trickster is a character in a story who exhibits a great degree of intellect or secret knowledge and uses it to play tricks or otherwise disobey normal rules and defy conventional behavior.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Williamson's mouse-deer</span> Species of mammal

Williamson's mouse-deer is a species of even-toed ungulate in the family Tragulidae. It is found in Thailand, and possibly in China. The species is named after the collector Walter James Franklin Williamson.

The stories of Sang Kancil is a series of traditional fables about a clever mouse-deer. They are popular in Indonesia and Malaysia. A weak and small yet cunning figure, Sang Kancil uses his intelligence to triumph over beings more powerful than himself. The protagonist of these stories is Sang Kancil, a smart and sly mouse deer. He can fool the other animals to escape from trouble. This folk figure is similar to another folk figure, Br'er Rabbit.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Malay folklore</span>

Malay folklore refers to a series of knowledge, traditions and taboos that have been passed down through many generations in oral, written and symbolic forms among the indigenous populations of Maritime Southeast Asia (Nusantara). They include among others, themes and subject matter related to the indigenous knowledge of the ethnic Malays and related ethnic groups within the region.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Folklore of Malaysia</span> Local tales and legends from Malaysia

Malaysian folklore is the folk culture of Malaysia and other indigenous people of the Malay archipelago as expressed in its oral traditions, written manuscripts and local wisdoms. Malaysian folklores were traditionally transmitted orally in the absence of writing systems. Oral tradition thrived among the Malays, but continues to survive among Orang Asli and numerous bornean ethnic groups in Sarawak and Sabah. Nevertheless, Malaysian folklores are closely connected with classical Malay folklore of the region. Even though, Malay folklore tends to have a regional background, with the passing of time, and through the influence of the modern media, large parts of regional Malay folklore have become interwoven with the wider popular Malaysian folklore.


  1. Timmins, R.; Duckworth, J.W. (2015). "Tragulus kanchil". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species . 2015: e.T136297A61978576. doi: 10.2305/IUCN.UK.2015-2.RLTS.T136297A61978576.en . Retrieved 19 November 2021.
  2. Backus, Emma M. (1900). "Folk-Tales from Georgia". The Journal of American Folklore. 13 (48): 19–32. doi:10.2307/533730. JSTOR   533730.
  3. Jon C. Stott (21 September 2010). A Book of Tricksters: Tales from Many Lands. Heritage House Publishing Co. p. 38. ISBN   978-1-926613-69-7.
  4. Rahimidin Zahari. Sang Kancil and the snail. ITBM. p. 49. ISBN   978-967-460-035-8.
  5. "Uncle Remus (Myth-Folklore Online)".

Kusuda, S., Adachi, I., Fujioka, K., Nakamura, M., Amano-Hanzawa, N., Goto, N., et al. (2013). Reproductive characteristics of female lesser mouse deers (tragulus javanicus) based on fecal progestogens and breeding records. Animal Reproduction Science, 137(1-2), 69-73. doi:10.1016/j.anireprosci.2012.12.008