Establishment of Lesser Mouse Deer (Tragulus javanicus) Colony for Use as a New Laboratory Animal and/or Companion Animal: 1.Behavior; 2.Hematological Characteristics; 3.Reproductive Physiology; 4.Rumen Microbiology in Relation to Feed Digestibility; 5.Metabolic Activities.
Five females and 5 males of the lesser mouse deer (Tragulus javanicus) captured from the jungles of Selangor and Pahang, Malaysia were introduced into the Rumen Microbiology Laboratory, Universiti Pertanian Malaysia. The behavior of the lesser mouse deer was different from that of domestic ruminants and was more similar to that of dog and cat. Hematological studies showed that the blood composition of the lesser mouse deer was different from that of other domestic ruminants. In many erythrocytes, 1 or occasionally 2 unique pits were observed. The wild lesser mouse deer and offsprings reproduced well in the laboratory. The mouse deer reached sexual maturity at about 4 to 5 months of age and adult size at 5 months. The earliest sexual maturity was observed at 166 days for the male and 125 days for the female. Estimated gestation period was 134 +/- 2 days, which was much shorter than previously reported. The rumen flora and fauna of the lesser mouse deer were unique and differed from those of other ruminants. For example, the presence of fairly large bacteria, similar to Oval and Oscillospira as well as natural occurrence of mono-fauna of protozoa and protozoa-free conditions in this animal was observed. A new species of protozoa, Isotricha jalaludinii, was detected. Our observations under laboratory conditions suggest that the lesser mouse deer may be suitable as a small laboratory animal for studies in domestic ruminants and/ or as companion animal.