Home | Ungulates | About Us | Glossary | Links | Search | Contact Us
An Ultimate Ungulate Fact Sheet
Hyemoschus aquaticus
Water chevrotain
Click on the pictures above for larger views of the photographs
Quick Facts Detailed Information References




Common name:
Scientific name:
Other names:
Water chevrotain
Hyemoschus aquaticus
African chevrotain, Chevrotain aquatique, Chevrotain africain, Afrikanisches Hirschferkel, Zwergmoschustier, Antilope amizclero enano de agua, Giminan, Diaure ndiyam, Isè

Physical Characteristics

Head and body length: 60-100 cm
Shoulder height: 30-40 cm
Tail length: ~10 cm
Adult weight: 7-16 kg

The red-brown coat is marked with horizontal white stripes and rows of white spots, which help camouflage the chevrotain in the forest. The undersides are white, and the throat bears a series of inverted white "V"s. The hindquarters are larger than the front, giving the body the shape of a torpedo when the head is held low to the ground. Females tend to be larger than males. In males, the upper canine teeth are enlarged into small tusks which protrude from the mouth.

Similar species
  • The bold pattern of white stripes and spots makes it difficult to confuse the water chevrotain with other species which share its African forest habitat. Duikers (Cephalophinae) are similar in size and form, but lack distinctive white markings and typically have horns.
  • The related Asian spotted chevrotains (Moschiola) are superficially similar, with white markings on a dull brown coat. They are significantly smaller than the water chevrotain (weighing only 2-4 kg).

Reproduction and Development

Gestation period: 7-9 months.
Litter size: 1
Weaning: After 3-6 months.
Sexual Maturity: females at ~17 months; males between 5-27 months.
Life span: Up to 13 years, typically 8.

Births occur throughout the year, although peaks in births occur in January and in July/August. Young chevrotains are "hiders", lying tucked away and visited periodically by their mother to nurse.

Ecology and Behavior

Water chevrotains are primarily nocturnal, feeding in clearings at night and retiring to dense cover to rest during the day. Adults are not territorial, but females occupy stable home ranges which rarely overlap with those of other female chevrotains. Males tend to move around more, with larger home ranges that overlap those of several females. The first reaction of the water chevrotain to the presence of a predator is to freeze; if the threat continues to approach, the water chevrotain (as its name suggests) will retreat to water, where it can dive below the surface and remain hidden almost completely submerged. Noises made by chevrotains include screams, an alarm bark, and a high chatter.

Family group: Solitary.
Diet: Primarily fruit, but also leaves and stems.
Main Predators: Most forest predators. Young are also preyed upon by birds of prey.

Habitat and Distribution

Found in river valleys and lowland rainforests (always near a source of fresh water) in the west and central African rainforest block. The approximate range is depicted in the map below.

Range Map
(Adapted from Kingdon, 1997)

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List: Least concern (2008).
CITES Listing: Not listed (2009).
Threats: Habitat loss (agriculture and human development), hunting by humans for food.

The estimated total population is 278,000.

Quick Facts Detailed Information References