Natura Artis Magistra, in the Netherlands, is home to a newly born Java Mouse Deer. The Java Mouse Deer (Tragulus javanicus) is a species of even-toed ungulate from the family Tragulidae. At maturity it reaches the size of a rabbit, making it one of the smallest ungulates on earth.
Photo Credits: Edwin Butter / Artis Royal Zoo
Mouse Deer are native to forests of South and Southeast Asia, with a single species in the rainforests of Central and West Africa. The species residing at Artis is native to the Indonesian island of Java. Although other Mouse Deer in Southeast Asia are very similar to the Javan species, researchers determined there are enough differentials to consider the Java Mouse Deer a completely separate species.
Although called a deer, they do not grow antlers. Both sexes have elongated canine teeth, but they are especially prominent in males, where they project out on either side of the lower jaw. These teeth become effective weapons for the males in fights over females. The Asian species typically weigh between 1.5 and 17.6 lbs (0.7 and 8.0 kg).
Java Mouse Deer are primarily herbivores. Their diet consists primarily of that which is found on the ground in the dense vegetation they prefer to inhabit.
Mouse Deer are timid and solitary, but they often live in pairs. The young fawns are weaned at about three months of age and reach sexual maturity between five and ten months.
The Java Mouse Deer is currently classified as “Data Deficient” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The data deficiency is due to the inconclusiveness regarding the distinct separation of the Tragulus species, in addition to the lack of information on Tragulus javanicus. Although listed as “Data Deficient”, it is highly probable that a decline in the number of Java Mouse Deer, in the wild, is occurring and the IUCN status could easily change to “Vulnerable” in the near future.