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An Ultimate Ungulate Fact Sheet
Moschiola meminna
White-spotted 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:
White-spotted chevrotain
Moschiola meminna
Sri Lanka mouse-deer, Sri Lanka meminna

The genus Moschiola was revised in 2005, resulting in the single species Moschiola meminna being split into three separate species. The white-spotted chevrotain from the dry zone of Sri Lanka retains the original name, but the majority of the literature on Moschiola meminna prior to 2005 refers to the Indian chevrotain (Moschiola indica). The differentiation between the two Moschiola species on Sri Lanka requires additional work; the IUCN tentatively accepts the three-species classification of Moschiola based on habitat and location, pending further study.

Physical Characteristics

Head and body length: 46-56 cm
Tail length: 3 cm
Adult weight: 3.1 kg (males), 3.8 kg (females) for Sri Lankan chevrotains

The white-spotted chevrotain is intermediate in size between the Indian chevrotain (Moschiola indica), which it resembles closely, and the smaller yellow-striped chevrotain (Moschiola kathygre). The hind legs are relatively long, and the back is characteristically hunched. The overall color is a dull brown, punctuated with a broken pattern of white spots on the sides and back. These spots are generally arranged into four or five rows along the sides, and, unlike the yellow-striped chevrotain, the spots tend to be discrete and only rarely merge to form stripes. Three white bands cross the rump. The undersides are pale beige, and this coloration merges gradually with the upperparts. Down the centre of the belly is a pale cream-colored stripe which continues up the throat to the underside of the chin. Two pairs of white stripes flare off of this central stripe: by the angle of the jaw and partway down the throat. The forehead and top of the head are dark brown. Antlers are not present, but males have long upper canine teeth which are visible as small tusks.

Similar species
  • The dull gray-brown body and white spot pattern differentiate the white-spotted chevrotain from the yellow-striped chevrotain (Moschiola kathygre), also found on the island of Sri Lanka.
  • The Indian chevrotain (Moschiola indica) is visually similar, but is larger and found on the mainland, rather than Sri Lanka.
  • 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 white-spotted chevrotain has been published. Likely similar to the Indian chevrotain (Moschiola indica).

Ecology and Behavior

The white-spotted chevrotain is secretive and largely nocturnal, only rarely being seen active during the day. Little is known of its habits, despite its widespread distribution in Sri Lanka. Signs of these chevrotains are frequently found around large water holes. When startled, the alarm call is a "reedy grunt," which is usually followed by a rapid dash into dense vegetation. Based on repeated sightings of the same individual in one area, it is thought that these chevrotains have stable home ranges.
Family group: Solitary.
Diet: Unreported, but likely leaves and fruit like the other Moschiola species.
Main Predators: Unreported, but likely medium- and large-sized carnivores as with the yellow-striped chevrotain (Moschiola kathygre).

Habitat and Distribution

The white-spotted chevrotain is known from the dry zone of the island of Sri Lanka, although further studies are needed to distinguish distribution limits relative to the yellow-striped chevrotain (Moschiola kathygre). This species inhabits a variety of forest types; it is also noted in home gardens and coconut plantations. 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, hunting.

No formal assessments for the white-spotted chevrotain have been performed, in part due to the uncertainty of its taxonomic status. It is commonly hunted, and there has been significant forest destruction in its range over the past few centuries. However, this species occurs in several protected areas and appears to be at least somewhat resistant to habitat modification.

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