Weird Nature
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This Is The Smallest, Most Adorable Hoofed Animal You've Never Heard Of

Updated May 15, 2020 2.5k views12 items

What do you get when you cross a mouse, a rabbit, and a deer? You end up with one of the cutest mammals known to man: the chevrotain. This animal is also known as the "mouse deer," and the lesser mouse deer has the distinction of being the smallest hoofed animal on Earth. Besides just being cute, however, these little critters are completely awesome in how they live their lives. Some of these cute lesser mouse deer facts are bound to make you agree that great things do come in small packages.

This is only one of many small and cute animals found in Indonesia. The country is also home to other small animals, and plenty of regions have their own odd, adorable animals that often get overlooked. But what sets the mouse deer apart is its unique appearance: pencil-thin legs, unique hooves, and, yes, fangs.

If you have a soft spot for sweet, shy, and unique animals, look no further than the mouse deer. If nothing else, those big eyes and little ears are bound to give this animal a special place in your heart.

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  • They Can Climb, Swim, And Burrow

    Photo: jpc.raleigh / flickr / CC-BY-NC 2.0

    Even though the legs of the mouse deer are incredibly thin and spindly, there are actually quite strong. The bones are fused in areas that are not fused in true deer, which makes the legs sturdier, like shocks for a car.

    Mouse deer are also quite content both on the ground, and in trees. That's right – these minute mammals enjoy climbing when they can, and have been known to rest in the low branches of trees. This allows them to easily enjoy berries, and gives them a spot to hide from predators. Some species will even take to water when chased, where they swim with ease.

    When not exploring or climbing, the mouse deer will nestle down in a burrow where it will sleep through the day until evening.

  • They're Pretty Great Drummers

    Photo: Markus Kappeler / flickr / CC-BY-NC 2.0

    Mouse deer do the usual business of marking their territory with urine and feces. However, when threatened, mouse deer have one other line of defense, and it's a rather unique one at that. The creature will beat its front hooves on the ground in quick succession to create a sort of drumming noise that can reach up to seven beats per second. If other mouse deer are in the vicinity, or if a male is doing this to alert his mate, the other animal may respond with a similar drumming sound. This way, all the deer in the area are alerted to potential danger.

  • They Make Squeaking Noises

    Photo: Shehan Obeysekera / flickr / CC-BY 2.0

    Besides the drumming noises they make with their hooves, mouse deer have vocal calls as well. They usually only make this sound during mating season, as a means of talking to their mates; it's a way for females to call to their young as well. This sound, as you might expect from such a small creature, is a high-pitched squeak.

    Interestingly enough, the squeaks made by courting males are very similar to the noises mothers make when calling their young to them. The babies will also make a higher-pitched squeak, which the mother will respond to in a similar pitch.

  • They Have Very Long Tongues

    Video: YouTube

    The mouse deer may be small in most regards, but its tongue is an exception. Because it eats berries, leaves, and the occasional insect, it needs a tongue that can help pull food into its mouth. So, its tongue is about five inches long – a little less than a third of its full size.

    Not only does the mouse deer use this specialized tongue to eat, it also uses it to clean its face. Mouse deer have been known to actually lick their own eyes to rid themselves of gunk, and regularly clean the rest of their faces with their tongues, too.