World’s smallest deer that’s more like a ‘mouse’ born at a Spain zoo

Published: April 23, 2014
Mouse deer

The world’s smallest deer – more like a mouse with a heritage stretching back millions of years – has been born at a zoo in Spain.

CEN AGENCY

The world’s smallest deer – more like a mouse – with a heritage stretching back millions of years has been born at a zoo in Spain.

The birth of the mouse-deer brings the number of species in zoos in Europe to 44. They originate from Southeast Asia, and are extremely shy, which might be due to the fact that because they are so small, they are the perfect prey even for birds and snakes, and the Indonesian natives that consider them a delicacy.

They make up for their lack of size by being fiercely intelligent, say experts.

This new addition to the mouse-deer family was born at a zoo in the Spanish town of Fuengirola, in Andalusia. “The mouse-deer is an animal surrounded by a lot of mystery,” said zookeeper Asun Portillo. “Its small size and nocturnal habits make it difficult to know how many animals are actually in the wild but there are very few in zoos.”

Mouse deer

The world’s smallest deer – more like a mouse with a heritage stretching back millions of years – has been born at a zoo in Spain.

The mother of this newborn was also born in the same zoo, and its father was born in another animal park but has been at Fuengirola for the past year.

The mouse-deer are primitive herbivores which have existed for 30 million years. They live in rainforests and mangroves, never far from the water, on the island of Java in Indonesia.

The newborn does not have a name because “we do not know the sex”, said Portillo. It lives with its parents in an area called “The Hidden Jungle”, a part of the zoo where there is a forest and some temple remains that the zoo crafted for them.

“It is no larger than a hamster,” said Portillo, who added that it weighs only about 100 grams.

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