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Of the five species of deer found in Malaysia, three belong to the Cervidae family; and two are mouse deer or chevrotains of the Tragulidae family. The Cervidae family comprises the sambar deer, the Indian muntjak or barking deer and the Bornean yellow muntjak. The two mousedeer species are the lesser mouse deer and the greater mouse deer.
The sambar deer, which is the largest, lives on the fringes of the forest and riverbanks, feeding on herbs and grasses. The antlers on the head of a fully matured stag bears three points. There are two species of Barking deer, one of which is endemic to Borneo. The males have short antlers while the females have none. Both species prefer to stay in the forests where they feed on fallen fruit and leaf shoots. The Barking deer derives its name from the loud, hoarse barks which can cause considerable alarm to the unwary jungle traveller.
Both species of the mousedeer, whether male or female do not have antlers. Locally, the Greater mousedeer is known as napu, while the Lesser mousedeer, less then 30 cms high, is known as pelandok or kancil. This tiny animal is depicted as being very intelligent in traditional Malay stories.
The Malayan sun bear, or honey bear, is the smallest of the world's seven species of bears, and the only one found in Southeast Asia. This carnivorous animal belongs to the Ursidae family. The name Sun Bear is probably linked to its habit of basking in the sun on tree boles or on the ground. It is also known as the Honey bear because of its fondness for honeycombs. When fully grown, the Sun Bear is about 1.1 to 1.4 metres tall and weighs between 27 to 65 kilogrammes. The body is covered with short black hair, with a white or pale buff V-shaped mark on the upper chest. Cubs have a whitish muzzle which becomes less prominent upon maturity. The bear has a large head set with small eyes and small, rounded ears. Active both during the day and at night, the sun bear is a good climber.
The Malayan bear relaxing on a branch.
There are four species of otters in Malaysia. Of these, the most common is the smooth otter and the small-clawed otter which are distributed all over the country mainly in the lowlands. The common otter, which is the largest, has a comparatively rougher coat, while the nose of the hairy otter is completely covered by hair. Otters have a close coat of water proof fur; thick, muscular and slightly flattened tails; and large webbed feet “ all characteristically associated with their aquatic behaviour. All highly territorial and gregarious, they are protected under the law.
Civets, which are nocturnal cat-like animals, are mostly restricted to forest habitats throughout Malaysia. There are twelve species in the country, all possessing the distinguishing pointed muzzle. All, except the linsang, are equipped with scent glands. The binturong's long black hair and the total lack of stripes or spots sets it apart from the other civets. Being a noisy animal, it is thought that the binturong uses the scent glands for communication purposes.