Friday, July 9, 2010

Water Chevrotain

Are you ready for some tiny, tiny deer? I hope so, because after a few days of not-so-cuddly looking critters, I think I cute little mouse-deer is much needed. And when I say little, I mean little. Water Chevrotains are not the smallest ruminants in the world, but they are definitely up (or down?) there.. though they are the largest of the Chevrotain species.. Adults stand between 30 and 40cm at the shoulder, and top out near 26lbs. Females are about 20% larger than males.

Image from Blue Forest Safaris
Water Chevrotains are so named because they live near water. One of their methods of fleeing a threat is to dive into the water, where they are capable of hiding while completely submerged. (Watch the video!) They are hunted by most of the carnivores that overlap their tropical central African habitats. Chevrotains themselves eat a variety of fruits and flowers, but they have also been known to consume insects and other scavenged meat. They are nocturnal.

They have a pretty interesting body shape. Their back legs are up higher than their front, and they typically walk with their heads pointing downwards. This gives them a bit of a cone shape overall. Water Chevrotains stand, and run, in that way because it helps to get them through thickets and other thick areas. Their feet look a bit like pigs' feet, and the males of the species have canine teeth that stick out, giving them little tusks. They are solitary creatures for most of the year, and come together to breed.

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