Rare Mouse Deer Born at Marwell Zoo

Marwell Zoo has welcomed a new arrival, a rare mouse deer.

The tiny youngster, also called a Javan Chevrotain, is one of the smallest hoofed animals in the world – was born to parents Gus and Gwen at the zoo’s Energy for Life: Tropical House weighing approximately 370 grams at birth.

Keepers say the youngster is doing well, though their interactions are minimal due to the sensitivity of the species.

Tim Rowlands Marwell Zoo’s Hoofstock Team Leader explained: “We separated the male and female two weeks before she gave birth so she would not be disturbed, even by him, mimicking the natural behaviour of the female taking herself away to find a quiet and secure spot to give birth in the wild. All deer species will hide their young until they are older so they will only really come out to feed then hide again.

“There are very few zoos who care for any of the mouse deer species as they are so small in size, very secretive, and nocturnal, so any youngster born is great news for the conservation breeding programme. It’s vitally important that we work to ensure these wonderful animals do not disappear for good.”

In the wild, this nocturnal species is found on the island of Java in Indonesia. They are hunted and traded both as pets and as wild meat. The species is classified as data deficient, partly because there is a lack of information about how many species of chevrotain there are on Java.

When born, the young are the size of a rat and can run and jump soon after birth. The young suckle only occasionally, and only at night.

Marwell is a conservation charity and is facing the toughest challenge in its nearly 50-year history after losing more than £4 million in revenue due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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