CHEVROTAIN, a name taken from the French to designate the various representatives of the mammalian ungulate family Tragulidae. These tiny animals, commonly known as mouse-deer, are in no wise nearly related to the true deer, but constitute by themselves a special section of artiodactyle ungulates known as Tragulina, for the characteristics of which see Artiodactyla. The typical genus Tragulus, which is Asiatic, contains the smallest representatives of the family, the animals having more of the general aspects and habits of some rodents, such as the agoutis, than of other ruminants. The longest-known species are T. javanicus, T. napu, T. kanchil, T. stanleyanus and T. memmina; but a number of other forms, best regarded for the most part as races, have been named. Of those mentioned, the first four are from the Malay Peninsula or the islands of the Indo-Malay Archipelago, the last from Ceylon and India. Kanchil and napu (or napoh) are the Malay names of the species with those specific titles. The second genus, Dorcatherium (or Hyomoschus), is African, and distinguished chiefly by the feet being stouter and shorter, the outer toes better developed, and the two middle metacarpals not welded together. Its dental formula (as that of Tragulus) is i.0/3, c.1/1, p.8/3, m.3/3=34. Vertebrae: C. 7, D. 13, L. 6, S. 5, Ca. 12-13. The only existing species, D. aquaticum (fig.), in type is rather larger than any of the Asiatic chevrotains, which it otherwise much resembles, but is said to frequent the banks of streams, and have much the habits of pigs. It is of a rich brown colour, with back and sides spotted and striped with white; and it is evidently the survivor of an ancient form, as remains of a species only differing in size (D. crassum) have been found in the Miocene deposits of France. For long this species was supposed to be restricted to West Africa, but it has recently been obtained in East Central Africa, where it is represented by a local race.
African Water Chevrotain (Dorcatherium aquaticum).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)