Water chevrotains are, except for during the mating season, solitary animals (3), with females inhabiting isolated home ranges and male ranges overlapping those of at least two females (2). Ranges are marked with faeces impregnated with anal gland secretions, and urine (3). Shy and secretive animals, water chevrotains are mostly active at night and are never found without the protection of dense cover in the day (2) (3). Their small size makes them fairly easy prey for a number of predators; when threatened the chevrotain either stands motionless amongst vegetation, or can dive into water (2). As its name suggests, it is capable in water, but can only swim for short periods before tiring (2) (3).
Fallen fruits, such as figs, palm nuts and breadfruit make up the majority of the water chevrotain’s diet, although it has also been known to feed on insects, crabs, scavenged meat and fish. It relies on its sense of smell to locate food (2), and being ruminants, they have a gut modified to ferment the food (3)
A single young is born each year after a gestation of around four months. The young chevrotain lies up for the first three months of its life, receiving frequent nourishment from its mother’s milk during periodic visits (2). At around nine months, the young are weaned and disperse from their mother’s range. While water chevrotains are believed to be able to live for up to 13 years, few survive beyond eight years of age (2).