Mouse Deer

The Balabac Mouse deer or Pilandok is a major protein source for the native Molbogs of Balabac Island, Palawan. Generally shy, the mouse deer takes refuge in burrows dug under trees. These underground holes become favorite habitats also to pythons, which appear to be ‘friendly’ with the mouse deer. Natives described the relationship mutual. Accordingly, when the mouse deer is hunted with the aid of dogs, and when the mouse deer takes refuge in its hole, the python lies in wait to prey on the dogs.

The Balabac mouse deer (Tragulus nigricans) with its favorite food called “tubog” at the background.

General Description

The small, Balabac mouse deer or Chevrotain does not belong to Family Cervidae, the true deer family, but is a member of the Chevrotain family. Chevrotain is a French word meaning “little goat”.

When meat is cooked with “ogsom”, a fruit used to remove the characteristic odor of the mouse deer, the natives found it delicious. Its consumption by the locals caused endangerment to the population.

Physical Characteristics

Balabac mouse deer are ruminants without horns with small canines oriented sideways. They have horizontally-oriented pupil adapted to night activity. The body is generally covered with brown fur, with blotches of dark-brown and white bands at the throat. The ears stand erect with white undersides.


The above mouse deer was captured near the shore when dogs cornered it. It is however difficult to find during the day. It is known to occur in dense areas of primary as well as secondary forests.

At night, they could be detected using a flashlight because their eyes shine brightly. They may also be encountered along roads bound by thick forests.

A native recounted that the mouse deer lives in its burrows sometimes protected by pythons which co-inhabit with it. When disturbed, the mouse deer takes refuge in its burrow while the python lies in wait to deal with the intruder which eventually becomes its prey.


Tubog, a tree with hard, berry-like fruit which grows even at the base of the tree buried under the sand, is the main food of the pilandok. They also feed on fallen fruits, leaves , buds, and grasses.

Ecological Status

The Balabac mouse deer is endemic to the island of Balabac and is currently under endangered status.

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12 Responses to “Mouse Deer”
  1. Hossnature Says...

    On May 13, 2008 at 7:35 pm


  2. HoesNature Says...

    On May 16, 2008 at 10:45 pm

    Of course it is, how would you crop it….

    Along with Pawikan (sea turtle), this one has got to be one of the most exotic yet endagered edible specie in the Philippines

  3. Patz Says...

    On May 17, 2008 at 5:25 am

    Yes, the Balabac Mousedeer, a decade ago, is in abundance in Balabac Island. As far as I’m concerned nobody studied its present population status due in part to the island’s inaccessibility especially during the wet season.

  4. henry c. moscoso, Lifecare center of America, Houston Texas 77054 Says...

    On June 25, 2008 at 4:21 pm

    Do you think this Balabac Mousedeer can be domesticated? My daughter Naveena has 2 spayed Russian Hamster. It would be nice if we could bring one to US to associate with my daughter’s pet.

  5. patrick regoniel Says...

    On June 25, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    Hello Henry, the Balabac mousedeer is endemic to Palawan and rearing it is still a challenge although I have seen a family in Balabac taking care of it in their backyard. Threats to its habitat as well as meat consumption may have significantly depleted its population, thus the IUCN classified it as endangered although no population estimate in the wild has been made.

  6. Luisa Says...

    On August 29, 2008 at 9:57 am

    I’m making a project about it and i visited it in Avilon Zoo the other day… It’s so cute in person! I was surprised to see how fast it was, and yes… camera shy! :) ) hahahah! It took me so long just to get a clear picture of it!

  7. ariston Says...

    On February 25, 2009 at 10:15 pm

    To Henry; Just leave the animal alone. You may acquire one legally or illegally out of the country, but it’s not so bright on your part to make this endangered species as your child’s pet.

  8. Pilandokan Artist Group Says...

    On July 31, 2009 at 1:26 am

    Help save Balabac mouse deer! Stop hunting and trading. I am requesting any NGO who are willing to study the population distribution of this endangered animals. My group is willing to assist you on the field. Just contact me at or to my mobile number 0918-4030-992. Our group is base in Balabac municipality who currently conducting an IEC for the protection of Mouse Deer in different schools and barangays.. PILANDOKAN ARTIST GROUP..

  9. muz Says...

    On March 16, 2010 at 9:44 am

    this pilandok is really endangered in our municipality and it is not photoshopped. please save them

  10. Patrick Regoniel Says...

    On March 16, 2010 at 5:13 pm

    Thanks muz, greater awareness on pilandok will help save them from extinction.

  11. vand Says...

    On December 12, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    im doing a study on them. any interesting facts about them?

  12. Patrick Regoniel Says...

    On December 17, 2010 at 7:34 pm

    Hello vand, it’s good you are studying the pilandok. I have not gone to Balabac again because it really takes a deliberate effort to go there. It’s almost a day trip. Bad weather days will also make it almost impossible to get to Balabac.

    I’ll see what information my friends can gather about this animal. Whenever I get new information about animals in Palawan, I post it in my website,

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