|A lesser mouse-deer in a Spanish zoo|
The lesser mouse-deer is found widely across Southeast Asia in Indochina, Burma (Kra Isthmus), Brunei, Cambodia, China (Southern Yunnan), Indonesia (Kalimantan, Sumatra and many other small islands), Laos, Malaysia (Peninsular Malaysia, Sarawak and many other small islands), Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
It is the smallest known hoofed mammal, its mature size being as little as 45 cm (18 inches) and 2 kg (4.4 lb). It is threatened by predation by feral dogs.
The Malay or Indonesian name kancil, (pronounced 'kanchil' or 'kahn-cheel', as in the species' name) means both mouse-deer and 'clever person'. The generic name Tragulus, is composed of Tragos, 'goat' in Greek, and –ulus, meaning 'tiny' in Latin.
In an Indonesian and Malaysian folktale, the mouse-deer Sang Kancil wanted to cross the river to reach the fruit trees on the other side of the river, but Sang Buaya, the big bad crocodile was waiting in the river to eat him. Sang Kancil called to Sang Buaya and told him the king was inviting everyone to a feast, for which he needed to know how many crocodiles would be coming. Sang Kancil asked all the crocodiles to line up across the river, so he could count them for the king, and made them promise not to eat him as he counted. He then stepped on their heads, one by one, calling out "One! Two! Three!" as he went. When he reached the other side of the river he thanked them for helping him cross the river, and feasted on the delicious fruits, but Sang Buaya did not do so well, as all the other crocodiles were angry with him for letting Sang Kancil trick them.
- Timmins, R.J.; Duckworth, J.W. & Semiadi, G. (2008). "Tragulus kanchil". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2008. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 6 November 2009. Database entry includes a brief justification of why this species is of least concern.
- Chok, Yoon Foo; Traditional (2008). "Outwitting a Crocodile: A Traditional Malaysian Folktale". Topics Magazine. Retrieved 17 October 2013.