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An Ultimate Ungulate Fact Sheet
Moschiola kathygre
Yellow-striped chevrotain
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Classification
 

Kingdom:
Phylum:
Class:
Order:
Suborder:
Family:
Genus:

Animalia
Chordata
Mammalia
Artiodactyla
Ruminantia
Tragulidae
Moschiola

Common name:
Scientific name:
Other names:
Yellow-striped chevrotain
Moschiola kathygre
Sri Lanka pygmy mouse-deer, Sri Lanka kuru meminna

In 2005, the species Moschiola meminna was split into three separate species: the Indian chevrotain (Moschiola indica) from mainland India, and two species from Sri Lanka, M. meminna from the Dry Zone and M. kathygre from the Wet Zone. There is strong evidence to support the separation of M. indica, but the separation of the two Sri Lankan species is less clear due to small sample sizes, overlaps in some key skull measurements, and minimal evidence from the field. The IUCN tentatively accepts the three-species classification of Moschiola based on habitat and location, pending further study.

Physical Characteristics

Head and body length: 43-51 cm
Tail length: 1.6-2.6 cm
Adult weight: 3.1 kg (males), 3.8 kg (females) for Sri Lankan chevrotains

The yellow-striped chevrotain is the smallest of the three Moschiola species based on external measurements. The general form is hunched; compared to the other spotted chevrotains in the genus Moschiola, the hind legs are noticeably shorter. The general coloration is golden brown, with the lower legs being darker. Four or five horizontal rows of yellowish spots mark the flanks from the shoulders to the rump; typically the spots in two of the rows merge to form more or less complete stripes. Two bold stripes mark the haunches, and another one runs beneath the tail. The undersides are pale buff in color, which gradually merges with the brown of the upper body. A sharply-delineated white stripe runs from the underside of the chin, down the throat, and along the belly. Two pairs of stripes flare out from the central stripe on the throat: one on either side of the jaw, and one partway down the throat. There are no distinctive facial markings, although the forehead may be indistinctly darker.

Similar species
  • The golden brown body and yellow stripe-and-spot markings visually differentiate the yellow-striped chevrotain from the white-spotted chevrotain (Moschiola meminna) and the Indian chevrotain (Moschiola indica), both of which have white spots on a dull gray-brown coat.
  • The water chevrotain (Hyemoschus aquaticus) is superficially similar, with a stripe-and-spot pattern on a reddish-brown coat; the water chevrotain is larger and easily distinguished by its African distribution.

Reproduction and Development

No information on the reproductive biology of the yellow-striped chevrotain has been published. Likely similar to the Indian chevrotain (Moschiola indica).

Ecology and Behavior

The yellow-striped chevrotain is poorly known - in part due to its small size and retiring nature, as well as its recent description (2005) and the lack of clarity regarding distribution and habitat use compared with the white-spotted chevrotain (Moschiola meminna). In optimal habitat, population densities of 10 animals per square kilometer have been estimated. Based on camera-trap studies, the yellow-spotted chevrotain is nocturnal. The species swims well, and an adult female (here assigned to M. kathygre based on location) was observed running into a pond to escape a predator. When swimming, the body sits low in the water; the observed individual was also able to submerge entirely.
Family group: Largely solitary, occasionally seen in pairs.
Diet: Fallen fruit, tender leaves, bark
Main Predators: Medium- and large-sized carnivores, including brown mongoose and leopard.

Habitat and Distribution

The yellow-striped chevrotain is believed to be restricted to the ecological "Wet Zone" of southwestern Sri Lanka, although further studies are needed to distinguish distribution limits relative to the white-spotted chevrotain (Moschiola meminna). The preferred habitat is secondary rainforest, with immature trees and ground level vegetation; yellow-striped chevrotains are also seen in human-altered landscapes such as rubber plantations, rice paddies, and home gardens. The mimimum distributional limits, based on museum specimens, are depicted in the map below; further work is required to determine the actual range of this species.

Range Map
(after Duckworth and Timmins, 2015)

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List: Least Concern (2015).
CITES Listing: Not listed (2019).
Threats: Habitat loss (from logging, agricultural conversion, mining, and urban expansion), hunting, and predation by domestic dogs.

No formal assessments for the yellow-striped chevrotain have been performed, in part due to the uncertainty of its taxonomic status and lack of information regarding its occurrence. In areas of good habitat the species is at least locally common, and in some areas it is the most commonly-observed mammal in nightime spot-light surveys. A general population decline has been observed in the chevrotains from the Wet Zone of Sri Lanka over the past few decades.

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