chevrotain

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chevrotain

(shĕv`rətān'), name for several species of small, ruminant mammals of Africa and SE Asia. Although they are also called mouse deer, chevrotains are not closely related to true deerdeer,
ruminant mammal of the family Cervidae, found in most parts of the world except Australia. Antlers, solid bony outgrowths of the skull, develop in the males of most species and are shed and renewed annually.
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, and are classified in a family of their own.

The smallest of the hoofed mammals, they stand 8 to 14 in. (20–66 cm) high at the shoulder, depending on the species. The body is rabbitlike, with an arched back; the legs are very slender and end in small feet; the snout is tapered and somewhat piglike. Their small size makes them easy and important prey for snakes, crocodiles, eagles, and forest-dwelling cats. The reddish-brown coat is spotted with white in most species. Chevrotains lack antlers but have tusklike upper canine teeth, used by the males for fighting. The upper incisors are lacking.

Solitary, nocturnal animals of thick forests, chevrotains browse on leaves, twigs, and fruit. They sometimes rest in the branches of low trees. The water chevrotain (Hyemoschus aquaticus) of Africa is always found near water and takes to the water when pursued. The other chevrotains (Moschiola and Tragulus species) are found from India to Indonesia and the Philippines, and some also can swim underwater. Chevrotains are classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
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, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Artiodactyla, family Tragulidae.

chevrotain

[′shev·rə‚tān]
(vertebrate zoology)
The common name for four species of mammals constituting the family Tragulidae in the order Artiodactyla. Also known as mouse deer.
References in periodicals archive ?
55) Some informants, but not all, mentioned a particular movement of the mousedeer (planok) as significant.
56) If a mousedeer were seen running across the area slashed for rice-sowing, it was inauspicious enough to make one move to another site--for some informants but not all.