New mouse-deer species discovered in Sri Lanka?

This National Geographic video is called Eagle vs. Water Chevrotain.

From Wildlife Extra:

First Photos of Rare Mouse-Deer – Is it a New Species?

One of Sri Lanka’s least known mammals, the mouse-deer found in the highlands of Sri Lanka has been photographed. It is believed that this is the first time it has been photographed in the wild.

Three Species of Mouse Deer

For many years it was believed that Sri Lanka had one species of Mouse-deer, which was shared with Southern India. British taxonomist Colin Groves published a paper in June 2005 in The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology that distinguished three species of Mouse-deer from Sri Lanka and India. The Indian Mouse-deer (Moschiola indica) was split as a new species and is now considered endemic to the Eastern Ghats of India. The mouse-deer found in Sri Lanka was split into two new species. The White-spotted Mouse-deer found (Moshiola meeminna [sic; meminna]) in the dry zone of Sri Lanka and the Yellow-striped Mouse-deer (Moschiola kathygre) found in the wet zone of Sri Lanka. Both species are endemic to Sri Lanka. This raises the number of endemic mammals found in Sri Lanka to eighteen species.

Possible Fourth Species

Colin Groves also stated that ‘a single skull from Sri Lanka’s Hill Zone may prove to represent a fourth species’. The ‘Mountain Mouse-deer’ is evidently a very scarce animal. Many of the field staff of Horton Plains National Park had not seen one although they regularly encounter other nocturnal mammals including leopard.

Mountain Mouse-Deer

A Mountain Mouse-deer was seen under quite dramatic circumstances in February 2008 by wildlife photographer and specialist Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne, and naturalist Nadeera Weerasinghe. While providing a training session on butterflies and dragonflies for the staff of the Horton Plains National Park, an animal came running and jumped into the pond and swam towards them. It was identified as a Mountain Mouse-deer, being pursued by a Brown Mongoose, about a third of its size.

The mouse-deer swam back to the far shore and faced off with the Mongoose. The Mongoose did not enter the water but at times approached within five to six feet of the mouse-deer which responded by flaring its throat and showing the white on its throat.

After fifteen minutes the mongoose seemed to tire of the chase and left. The Mouse-deer left but returned soon with the mongoose in pursuit and once again dived into the pond. Forty five minutes later the duo left and Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne and Nadeera Weerasinghe informed the park warden. Around 5 pm the mouse-deer was seen again by the park warden and his staff. Later around 6pm it was taken in for safe custody, and offered no resistance. It had a small gash near the ear and was in an exhausted state.

Scientific Analysis

Given the significance of the live specimen, Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne informed several scientists of the mouse-deer being temporarily held captive. Two scientists took a blood sample for analysis. Dr Tharaka Prasad the Deputy Director (Veterinary) of the Department of Wildlife Conservation and Dr. Prithiviraj Fernando who has worked on conservation genetics of elephants and other mammals (, examined the mouse-deer, which was released back into the wild later that day.

The mouse-deer was found to be a pregnant female and measured 56 cm in length. This places it at the upper end of all specimens of mouse-deer which have been measured.

New Species?

The newly split wet zone species is bigger than the species in the dry zone. It is too early to establish whether the Mountain Mouse-deer is a separate species or a sub-species of the wet zone Yellow-striped Mouse-deer. It may even transpire that it has no distinct differences from the form found in the wet lowlands. More work may need to be done to resolve the taxonomic questions by examining DNA from other specimens from the wet and dry zones. Ideally more measurements should also be taken in the field through a small mammal trapping survey in the field.

A tiny hamster sized deer has been born at a southern Spanish zoo. The newborn, an endangered Java mouse-deer weighs just 100 grams, staff from Bioparc Fuengirola said: here.

2 thoughts on “New mouse-deer species discovered in Sri Lanka?

  1. Kantjiel Kantjil Tragulus javanicus (Osbeck: Cervus) 1765, (één der vele) synoniem(en) Tragulus kanchil (Van Bemmel 1949b [Wilson & Reeder p. 382]), niet bij ons inheems (/nooit geweest ook) Dwerghert uit Zuidoost-Azië, o.a. Java en Sumatra in Indonesië. urls N en E

    De naam van het lemma verschijnt voor het eerst in een N wb. bij Kruyskamp & De Tollenaere 1950 [vD 7e druk1] met als omschrijving “dwerghert (uit het Maleisch)” ; de Kantji(e)l is m., mv. Kantji(e)ls. In vD 1961 (8e druk) is een voorbeeldzin toegevoegd: “de kantjil geldt als zeer slim en speelt een grote rol in Indische dierfabels.” (p.920). D Kantschil [n.o. in Wahrig (1966) 1992]

    Benoemingsgeschiedenis in Nederland “Het Diertje, dat sommigen het Guineesch Rheetje Ý noemen, wordt door onzen Autheur tot de Geiten t’huis gebragt.” [Houttuyn 1762, Nat. Hist. I,3]. Voor Rheetje zie Ree Ý, voor Guineesch zie Guinees Biggetje Ý.

    F Chevrotain 2 (eind 18e eeuw) (afleiding van F Chevreau ‘Geit’) > E Chevrotain = Mouse-deer ¹ (is ongelijk aan) Musk-deer Moschus moschi­ferus [contra Weekley 1967 p.290].

    Etymologie maleis kancil, javaans kancil [-c- zal hier klinken als [-t(s)j-] betekenen niet alleen ‘Dwerghert’, maar ook ‘slimme persoon’ [url E ]. Mogelijk was de naam voor het Dwerghert primair, het woord voor ‘clever person; slimme persoon’ een afgeleide betekenis, samenhangend met de fabels (waarin de Kantjil aan de Tijger weet te ontsnappen; vgl. Merk op: hierin zowel het Kantjil als de Kantjil ! Het kantjil onder invloed van het (Dwerg)Hert ? Dan ook zo het Ree ? Of is het Ree een verkorting van (de jagersterm) het Reewild ? ). De etymologie van maleis kancil is (mij) niet bekend.


    1 of misschien al in de 5e of 6e druk, uit de periode 1900-1925

    2 niet zoveel anders dan F Chevrotin, syn. Biquet(te) (1339) ‘jong Geitje’, dat echter al uit 1277 is [Le Robert] me.140428

    Gisteren had ik mijn eerste (zingende) Braamsluiper, in de zeereep bij IJmuiden aan Zee. Tegelijk meerdere zingende Nachtegalen en één Sprinkhaanzanger. Iets verderop ook zingende Grasmus. Geen Merels, geen Vinken hier, ook geen bos trouwens. Als twents Klarre niet van Kladde kwam, zou je gezegd hebben: ’t Is een ono. – K.J. Eigenhuis


  2. Pingback: Rabbit size deer rediscovered in Vietnam | Dear Kitty. Some blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.