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.
It may seem pretty obvious that the mouse deer isn't actually a mouse, but it might be surprising to find that it's also not closely related to deer. The bones in its legs are fused at different places than other species, which means it is not a true deer. They do not grow antlers, and although they have hooves, each one has four digits.
They are classified as their own separate family, chevrotains, and there are several different types, varying in both size and shape. But their behavior patterns are incredibly similar across the different species, so even if they look different, they'll probably act pretty much the same.
The one vaguely imposing thing about these animals is their teeth. Although they do not have antlers with which to fight, males still challenge each other during mating season, and need a way to fend off predators. For this, they use specialized fang-like teeth that protrude from their mouths like tusks. These fangs are useful, and are one of the only real physical defenses the little mammals have.
Females also have these teeth, but they are always more prominent in males. They may be fearsome weapons for the mouse deer, but honestly, they just make them look all the more cute.
You might never have seen one of these little creatures before, or even heard of one, and that's partially because they're a very shy animal. They are live alone, away from other mouse deer, and they like to remain in the low underbrush and covered areas. They only tend to come together to mate, and even then, the couple split right afterwards. The mother doesn't even stay with her young for long.
Mouse deer are also nocturnal for the most part. When approached by predators, they tend to freeze in place, then rush quickly away into the forest at speeds of around five miles per hour. This makes the animals hard to catch, physically or on camera.
Mouse deer range widely in size from species to species. In general, they are only about the size of a rabbit, and are considered the smallest hoofed animal on Earth, with legs like pencils. They stand anywhere from eight to 14 inches in height, depending on the species, with males tending to be slightly larger than the females.
Regardless, most mouse deer weigh under 10 pounds, and some full-grown adults weigh as little as five pounds.