Philippine Mouse-Deer

Philippine Mouse-Deer

Balabac chevrotain, Pilandok

Tragulus nigricans
Population size
Life Span
14 yrs
18 cm
40-50 cm

The Philippine mouse-deer is a small secretive ruminant native to the Philippines. It has a black and brown coat with white stripes on the throat and chest. Each individual hair has sections of different colors - the base is generally light (ranging from white to ashy brown), with a tawny, orange, or brown midsection, and a long black tip. The most striking markings of the Philippine mouse-deer are on the throat, with three narrow white stripes beginning from a white patch under the chin and extending down towards the chest. Towards the chest, these black and white markings disappear into a broad brown band that crosses the lower throat. The head itself is generally darker in color than the rest of the body. Its slender legs and arched back are covered by brown fur, with a white base.



Biogeographical realms

Philippine mouse-deer are found in Balabac and nearby smaller islands (Bugsuk and Ramos) southwest of Palawan in the Philippines. They inhabit moist forest, shrubland, and often visit mangroves in order to feed. They have also been spotted along the seashore.

Philippine Mouse-Deer habitat map

Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

Philippine mouse-deer are solitary and nocturnal animals. However, sometimes they may occur in pairs for short periods of time. During the day, they typically take shelter in the dense primary and secondary forests and avoid movement. At sundown, they will wander into mangroves and more open areas to feed.

Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

Philippine mouse-deer are herbivores (folivores). They mainly feed on leaves, flowers, and other vegetation in the dense forest undergrowth.

Mating Habits

140-177 days
1 young

Philippine mouse-deer typically produce one offspring. Two young can occur but is extremely rare. The gestation period lasts from 140 to 177 days and reproductive maturity is reached at 5 months of age.


Population threats

The biggest threat to the Philippine mouse-deer is habitat loss. Its native habitat is being converted to agricultural lands for coconut plantations and other crops. The Philippine mouse-deer is also threatened due to poaching and capture for the wild animal trade. Hunting has also caused a great decline in the number of individuals left. The meat is considered a delicacy on the islands, and the skin is also used to make leather.

Population number

The IUCN Red List and other sources don’t provide the number of the Philippine mouse-deer total population size. However, in 2006 it was reported that at least 21 free-living individuals occur on Calauit Island. Currently, this species is classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are decreasing.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • The genus name of the Philippine mouse-deer Tragulus means 'little goat' and the animal has been named so due to the horizontal pupils of the eyes.
  • Contrary to its common name, the Philippine mouse-deer does not belong to the deer family but is a member of the chevrotain family.
  • Male Philippine mouse-deer do not have any antlers like a true deer. They use their large, tusk-like canine teeth on the upper jaw for self-defense or territorial fights with other males.
  • The Philippine mouse-deer is usually portrayed as a trickster in Philippine folklore. In a Maranao tale, the Philippine mouse-deer tricks a prince into giving up his bag of gold and facing a hive of angry bees.
  • The Philippine mouse-deer is also depicted as a clever guardian of the environment, using his wisdom as an advantage against those who destroy forests, seas, and wildlife. Due to this, the Molbog people of southern Palawan, consider the mouse-deer as sacred.


1. Philippine Mouse-Deer on Wikipedia -
2. Philippine Mouse-Deer on The IUCN Red List site -

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