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Greater mouse-deer

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Greater mouse-deer

Greater mouse-deer[1]
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Tragulidae
Genus: Tragulus
Species: T. napu
Binomial name
Tragulus napu
(F. Cuvier, 1822)

The greater mouse-deer, greater Malay chevrotain or napu (Tragulus napu) is a species of even-toed ungulate in the Tragulidae family. It is found in Sumatra, Borneo and smaller Malaysian and Indonesian islands, and in southern Myanmar, southern Thailand and peninsular Malaysia. It was thought to be regionally extinct in Singapore until it was rediscovered on an offshore island in 2008.[2][3] Reports of its occurrence elsewhere are probably incorrect.[2] Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist lowland forest.

Etymology

Tragos is Greek for "goat" and –ulus in Latin means "tiny". Napu is a local name, from Malay "Napuh". The name "mouse-deer" refers to its small size and does not imply that it is a true deer. It is called "greater" because it is larger than other Tragulus species.

Evolution

Morphology

Although very small for an ungulate, the greater mouse-deer is one of the largest members of its genus. It is rivalled in size by Williamson's mouse-deer. It weighs 5 to 8 kg (11 to 18 lb). Its head-and-body length is 70 to 75 cm (2.30 to 2.46 ft) and its tail length is 8 to 10 cm (3.1 to 3.9 in). Its shoulder height is about 30 to 35 cm (12 to 14 in) It has a small, triangular head with a small, pointed, black nose and large eyes. Its long legs are as thin as a pencil. The hind legs are visibly longer than the front legs. The body is rounded. The fur on the upper part of its body is grey-buff to orange-buff. On the sides, the fur is quite pale, but darker along the midline. It is white underneath, especially on the neck, stomach, chest and chin. The male has neither horns nor antlers, but has small "tusks" – elongated canines in the upper jaws.

Distribution

Greater mouse-deer are found in Sumatra, Borneo and smaller Malaysian and Indonesian islands, and in southern Myanmar, southern Thailand and peninsular Malaysia. They live near water, in tropical forests and mangrove thickets. They are terrestrial, but spend a lot of time in wet, swampy areas.

Behaviour

The greater mouse-deer is solitary and nocturnal. It uses small trails through thick brush in the forest. When the male is ready to mate, he rubs a large gland on his lower jaw against the female to determine whether she is ready to mate. If she is not ready, she responds by walking away. The male is very territorial, marking his territory with feces, urine and secretions from the intermandibular gland under the chin. When angry, the male will beat the ground with his hooves at a rate of four times per second. They are rather trusting but delicate animals. They feed on fallen fruits, aquatic plants, buds, leaves, shrubs and grasses.

Reproduction

Greater mouse-deer breed throughout the year; The female spends most of her adult life pregnant. They usually produce one young per birth, after a gestation of 152–155 days. Newborn animals are well-developed and immediately able to stand; they are fully active after 30 minutes. The young stand on three legs while nursing. Both male and female become mature at age 4½ months. Their life span is up to 14 years.

Economic importance for humans

The greater mouse-deer is used as a source of food for local people.

Conservation status

The major threats to T. napu are over-hunting by humans and loss of their habitat[2] through rapid deforestation activity.

References

  1. ^  
  2. ^ a b c d Timmins, R.J., Duckworth, J.W., Steinmetz, R. & Pattanavibool, A. (2008). Tragulus napu. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 29 March 2009. Database entry includes a brief justification of why this species is of least concern
  3. ^ Chua, M.; N. Sivasothi; Teo. R (2009). "Rediscovery of the greater mousedeer (Tragulus napu) (Mammalia: Artiodactyla: Tragulidae) in Pulau Ubin, Singapore". Nature in Singapore 2: 373–378. 
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