A deer-like animal the size of a rabbit, and intermediate in their physiology between pigs and deer. Water chevrotains live in dense African rainforest near water, and are nocturnal and solitary.
35cm high at the shoulder, 45-85cm long with a 7.5-17cm long tail. Males slightly smaller than females.
A small (rabbit-sized) deer-like animal with a slightly arched back and very delicate legs. Short, dark-brown fur covered in paler spots and stripes for camouflage, white stripes on the head and neck and white underside to the tail. Large eyes and medium-sized rounded ears.
Sierra Leone to Western Uganda.
Dense forests near water.
They are browsers, feeding on fruit and leaves.
Water chevrotains feed mainly on fallen fruit, but also browse vegetation and occasionally take invertebrates and small mammals. They are solitary, nocturnal forest animals communicating through sound and smell. Females have small ranges, whilst males have a larger range, usually including those of at least two females. Males are usually displaced from their range after at most one year. Fighting is rare, but involves the sharp canine teeth.
Males seek out females in oestrus. After 6-9 months the female gives birth to one or two young. The youngster is well-formed, but remains hidden on the forest floor with the mother only coming back to feed it. They are weaned at 3-6 months, and disperse when they reach sexual maturity between 9-26 months.
Currently classified as Vulnerable due to the impact of logging on their dense forest habitat. They are also hunted for meat.
Crying calls during courtship.
The first artiodactyls (also called the 'even-toed ungulates') were present in the Eocene forests. By the Miocene, chevrotains very similar to some modern species were found in forests all over the world. They are intermediate between pigs and deer, and are the smallest ruminants. Ruminants use fermentation by bacteria in the gut to help digest tough vegetation. Chevrotains are the most primitive ruminants, with a less specialised stomach than other ruminants such as deer.