Newquay Zoo in Cornwall has added another species to its collection with the arrival of two tiny Java mouse-deer. However, these deer won’t be pulling Santa’s sleigh any time soon, as mouse-deer grow to an average height of just 30cm.
The Java mouse-deer is not only the smallest species of deer in the world, but it’s also the smallest of all hoofed mammals. Full-grown mouse-deer are around the same size as a rabbit, and have legs as thin as pencils.
Mouse-deer are also known as chevrotains, which means ‘little goat’ in French. Unlike goats, they lack horns, although males have tusks that they use to fight rivals.
Dave Rich, Keeper Team Leader, said: “We last had mouse-deer on display at Newquay Zoo in 2019, so it’s great to welcome this amazing little species back. We can’t wait for visitors to meet them and see just how small they really are!”
Newquay Zoo is part of Wild Planet Trust, a charity committed to helping halt species decline. While there is not enough data available on Java mouse-deer to know their exact status in the wild, it is thought that numbers are declining.
In the Indonesian island of Java, the mouse-deer’s natural habitats of wetlands and forests are under threat from logging and human settlements. In addition, the species is often hunted for both meat and to be sold as part of the pet trade.
The Java mouse-deer at Newquay Zoo can be found in the Tropical House, along with other species such as Hoffmann’s sloths, red-tailed racer snakes and poison dart frogs.