You Can’t Hide Forever, Chevrotain

mouse deer underwater

As recently reported by the BBC, Asian and African chevrotain species have been discovered to readily favour water as a method of escape when startled or threatened by predators. Also known as the mouse-deer, these nimble, cat-sized creatures have been long regarded as solely dry-land animals, but two separate incidents of spooked chevrotains submerging themselves underwater proves this is certainly not the case.

In Borneo last year, a chevrotain remained submerged for over an hour after having dashed into a pond to escape its observers, momentarily surfacing for air only five or six times before it was caught and deemed unharmed by its bizarre behaviour. Following that, observers in Sri Lanka watched a mountain chevrotain dive into a pond and submerge itself when pursued by a ravenous brown mongoose, making its underwater escape by gracefully paddling out of its enemy’s reach. Here’s how it’s done:

In their report, the BBC linked this behaviour to that of today’s whales, but Laelaps’ Brian Switek has his doubts.

So okay, Chevrotain, as clever as this idea obviously is, you have to admit that it’s little more than a glorified bandaid solution. Sure, it may help you evade the grabby talons of the Crowned Eagle time and time again, but do you really want to spend your entire diminutive Cervidae life forever running away? Even Jason Bourne got sick of that lifestyle, Chevrotain, and it’s not like you can rely on your close-range hand-to-hand combat skills every time you find yourself cornered by something that wants to unceremonously tear you limb from limb with nary a body of water in sight. Perhaps if you just made an effort to get to know the Crowned Eagle instead of submerging yourself like a soggy coward every time you think he’s eyeballing you, you could find that you’re actually not that different, he and you. Everyone gets hungry, Chevrotain, and everyone gets angry when they’re hungry. And when you’re a keen-eyed predatory bird with enormous talons, hangry means grabby.

But here’s the thing, Chevrotain, I doubt the Crowned Eagle particularly cares if he ends up eating you or a couple of tuna salad sandwiches for lunch. You’re both equally delicious, I’d imagine, so how about you trade that pond of yours for a well-stocked kitchen. Don an apron and ditch that bathing suit, and you might just make a valuable new friend. Just don’t go overboard and make too many sandwiches, mind, or your little plan will backfire and you’ll be submerged forever waiting for a that cranky Crowned Eagle’s stomach ache to subside. Because there’s nothing more terrifying than Africa’s most fiercest eagle with a serious case of the bread bloats, nimble Chevrotain.

– bec

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Filed under Animals, Science, Video

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