Thursday, July 29

The Mouse Deer Whale Pig

The star attraction of the nature reserves are always the big cats. In Yala the leopard paparazzi flood into the national park every day hoping for a fleeting glimpse of the big spotty glamourpuss.

My own crush is on the much more mysterious and melancholic-sounding mouse deer. The books all describe this creature as secretive and solitary, the sole surviving member of the infraorder tragulina. It runs up low, shallow-angled branches to get itself into trees and it isn't really a deer at all, it is in fact more like a pig, especially in it's sexual behaviour.

The native name for the mouse deer translates as 'a deer and a pig' and my sense of it being stranded between species is reinforced by the wiki entry that says that it has

... a remarkable affinity with water often remaining submerged for prolonged periods to evade predators or other unwelcome intrusion. This has also lent support to the idea that whales evolved from water-loving creatures that looked like small deer


  1. Looks like it would be snack size for the leopard.

  2. I am driven to think of it as some slightly effete Bloomsbury type. Quite why, I don't know, but maybe it was the introduction of melancholia. Not good in the red in tooth and claw world.

  3. You descriptions make it sound like a Roald Dahl creature. : j

  4. Your illustrations just get better and better, I love them so!

    Off to google mouse pig dear now, I like a solitary secretive creature.

  5. What secrets is it keeping?

  6. It runs up trees and hides underwater? Sounds like me

  7. Sounds like a versatile pet to me.

    I like you new blog layout - not so sure about swallowing a toad first thing in the morning though.

  8. It looks a bit like the gerund in Molesworth...

  9. Alesa - ... or Edward Lear

    Thank you Eryl, I get lots of doodling time between takes

    MJ What secrets is it keeping?
    you are so much a girl after my own heart - that's exactly what I plan to find out.

    Nursey - just don't evolve into a whale

    Met Mum - and I bet it doesn't drop hair.

    Mrs Fly - that's another one I'll check out.

  10. Deer Whales. Dear Wales. Mouse, Dear. Mouse, Dear: whale pig? No thanks, I'm gorging on leopard.

    Leave it to you to identify with the little guy, no matter how overstuffed.

  11. 7/30/2010 03:59:00 AM

    "Looks like it would be snack size for the leopard."

  12. xl and Mme D - my internet connection is too dodgy for words, looks like my replies to you didn't make it first time.

    They are so tiny I don't think a mouse deer would touch the sides of a leopards gullet.

    Mme D - do you see this creature as the Lytton Strachey of the jungle?

    red-handed - the start of so many intriguing billets doux

  13. I love this Scientificky stuff!
    Leopard new Nat Geo has a photo of a Leopard jumping around the top of a tree because a Lioness climbed up to steal her should draw a picture of's pretty kewl.

  14. Do you think Darwin knew about mouse deers? When I was little, near my parents' flat there was a dog-cow-pig -a black and white dog, fat as a pig-. Evolution too...

  15. You made this up, didn't you?

    I love the Sri Lankan-themed banner.

  16. "... more like a pig, especially in its sexual behaviour.'' What does this mean? Exactly please with pics.

  17. Back in the days when evolutionary biology featured at all in my life, these were introduced to us as chevrotains. The examples we saw looked like they should be sipping absinthe in a waterfront bar.

  18. Sri Lanka1 Bloody Hell, you go away for five minutes and all sorts happen.

  19. Donn - Leopards and lions - the great animosity!

    Leni - quite a lot of creatures are part-pig now I think about it.

    K - you know me too well - it's all made up (well the believable bits are)

    Inky - diagrams on the way.

    Kevin - chevrotain is a lovely name, but I don't think it suts them so well.

    Marky - I hope you've been winning lots of football - I'll be over to check.


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