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Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Chordata
    Class: Mammalia
      Order: Artiodactyla
        Family: Tragulidae
          Genus: Tragulus

Tragulus napu

      Greater Malay mouse deer


Tragulus napu [F. Cuvier, 1822].  
Citation: In E. Geoffroy and F. Cuvier, Hist. Nat. Mammifères, pt. 2, 4(37):4 pp. "Chevrotain napu".
Type locality: Indonesia, S Sumatra.

Click on the pictures above for a larger view of the photographs

General Characteristics

Body Length: 70-75 cm / 2.3-2.5 ft.
Shoulder Height: 30-35 cm / 12-14 cm.
Tail Length: 8-10 cm / 3.2-4 in.
Weight: 5-8 kg / 11-17.6 lb.

The pelage is orangey-brown in colour, with the hindquarters being lightly grizzled with black.  The underparts and legs are lighter.  The underside of the chin is white, and there are a series of white markings on the neck.  The head is triangular in shape, and the large black nose is naked.  The eyes are very large, and the ears are medium sized, lightly covered with black hair.  The body is rounded, and the rear quarters are higher than the front, much like that of the South American agoutis.  The legs are extremely thin and delicate, being about the diameter of a pencil.  Instead of horns or antlers, the male has a set of elongated upper canines or tusks which protrude from the sides of the mouth like fangs.

Ontogeny and Reproduction

Gestation Period: 152-155 days.
Young per Birth: 1, rarely 2
Weaning: At 2-3 months.
Sexual Maturity: At 4.5 months.
Life span: Up to 14 years.

The female larger Malay mouse deer has the potential to be pregnant throughout heradult life, often having just an 85 or 155 minute 'breather' between giving birth and becoming pregnant again.  The young are born fully developed, and can stand within 30 minutes of birth.  Mothers nurse their young standing on three legs.

Ecology and Behavior

Larger Malay mouse deer are nocturnal, and hence rarely seen.  Using tiny, tunnel-like trails through thick brush when travelling, they rest and move at specific intervals several times a day.  Extremely territorial by nature, both sexes of larger Malay mouse deer regularly mark their territories with urine, feces, and secretions from an intermandibular gland under the chin.  They tame readily, but are very delicate creatures.  When agitated, larger Malay mouse deer drum on the ground with their hoofs at 4 times per second.

Family group: Solitary.
Diet: Buds, leaves, fruit, and probably small amounts of animal food.
Main Predators: Predators, birds of prey, large reptiles.


Overgrown forests and bush areas in the Malay Peninsula and Indonesia.

Range Map (Redrawn from Robin, 1990)

Conservation Status

T. n. nigricans is classified as endangered by the IUCN (1996), otherwise this species is fairly common, although potentially threatened by habitat loss.


The chevrotains are considered to be the evolutionary link between non-ruminating ungulates, like pigs and hippos, and ruminating artiodactyls, like deer, antelope, and cattle.  The name "mouse deer" refers to its extremely small size (although it is not a true deer), while the seemingly oxymoronic 'larger' is in reference to its size when compared to its smaller cousin.  Tragos (Greek) a goat; -ulus (Latin) diminutive suffix.  Napu is a native name for the mouse deer, or chevrotain, in Sumatra.

Literature Cited

Nowak, R. M. [editor]. 1991. Walker's Mammals of the World (Fifth Edition). Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Robin, K.  1990.  Chevrotains.  In Grzimek's Encyclopedia of Mammals. Edited by S. P. Parker. New York: McGraw-Hill. Volume 5, pp. 120-123.

Wilson, D. E., and D. M. Reeder [editors]. 1993. Mammal Species of the World (Second Edition). Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press.  Available online at

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© Brent Huffman,
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