Silver-Backed Chevrotain

Silver-Backed Chevrotain

Vietnam mouse-deer

Tragulus versicolor
Population size
1.7 kg
48 cm

The Silver-backed chevrotain is a small mysterious deer known only from Vietnam. It was first described in 1910. Facing multiple threats in the wild, the Silver-backed chevrotain was feared to have gone extinct and in 2019, a study confirmed its presence for the first time since the last confirmed sightings in 1990. The Silver-backed chevrotain has a rough coat with a strange double-tone coloration; the front part of the body is reddish-brown and contrasts strongly with the greyish posterior. It has big reddish-brown ears, white and dark reddish-brown marks on the throat. A prominent silver line runs down the back, hence the name "silver-backed". The tail, grey in the upper part and white below, becomes more reddish-brown toward the tip, which is white.



Biogeographical realms
WWF Biomes

Silver-backed chevrotains are native to Vietnam. They can be found in the semi-deciduous tropical forest as well as in dry lowland forest near the southern coast of the country.

Silver-Backed Chevrotain habitat map

Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

Little is known about the distribution and ecology of this mouse-deer as it has been sighted only thrice in the wild. It is suggested that they are active mainly during the day. These little creatures are very shy and were spotted singly or in pairs.

Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

Like other chevrotains, they are probably herbivores and feed on various types of plants.

Mating Habits

1 young

Chevrotians generally give birth to only a single young. Parental care is usually relatively limited. The young are typically weaned at 3 months of age, and reach reproductive maturity between 5 and 10 months, depending on species.


Population threats

The major threats to Silver-backed chevrotains include hunting pressure and habitat loss due to deforestation and degradation.

Population number

The IUCN Red List and other sources don’t provide the number of the Silver-backed chevrotain total population size. Currently, this species is classified as Data Deficient (DD) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are decreasing.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • Chevrotains are the smallest hoofed mammals in the world.
  • The word 'chevrotain' comes from the French 'chevrot' (kid or fawn), derived from the Middle French 'chèvre' (goat).
  • Chevrotains have four-chambered stomachs to ferment tough plant foods, but the third chamber is poorly developed. Though most species feed exclusively on plant material, some occasionally take insects and crabs or scavenge meat and fish. Like other ruminants, they lack upper incisors.
  • All chevrotains lack antlers and horns, but both the males and the females have elongated canine teeth. These are especially prominent in males; they project out on either side of the lower jaw and are used in fights.
  • The legs of chevrotains are short and thin, which leave them lacking in agility, but helps in running through the dense foliage of their environments.


1. Silver-Backed Chevrotain on Wikipedia -
2. Silver-Backed Chevrotain on The IUCN Red List site -
3. Silver-backed chevrotain illustration -

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