The Muntjac deer or the Chinese muntjac is one of the oldest deer species of the world dating back to between 15-35 million years ago. Its scientific name is Muntjac reveesi and belongs to the family Cervidae, it was earlier a native of Southeast Asian countries like China and Taiwan. Later, it got introduced to other locations like England, Japan, and Ireland. The description of this deer species is different from other deers as the muntjacs communicate by barking like dogs and are known as barking deer. They have short antlers and a brown fur-coated back, with white canine teeth or tusks protruding out from their mouth. They form an exquisite wildlife species that are often termed vermins or pests for their eating habits as they rapidly clear large agricultural tracts. Evolution over millions of years has made them strong and adaptive to their surroundings. So they can well adjust in a variety of climates like the Southern Asian tropics and England's temperate climate. Although no particular conservation efforts are undertaken for this species of Least Concern, countries like Hong Kong have taken up strict conservation measures for the muntjac's welfare.
Want to know more about the muntjac deer? Read on for more interesting facts.
China, Taiwan, Belgium, Netherlands, England, Ireland, Japan
Muntjac Deer Interesting Facts
What type of animal is a muntjac deer?
The Muntjac deer is a unique species of deer whose vocalizations resemble a dog's barking. Hence, it is commonly known as the barking deer.
What class of animal does a muntjac deer belong to?
The Muntjac deer or reeves muntjac belong to the class Mammalia. They have an even number of toes and are an Artiodactyla species.
How many muntjac deer are there in the world?
Although the exact population number of this wildlife species is not known, the reevesi muntjac faces no fear of extinction at present. There are plenty of these bucks in their habitat and in some countries conservation laws also protect them from external threats.
Where does a muntjac deer live?
They are native to the countries of Southern Asia like China, Taiwan, and Japan. Later, their population distribution spread outside Asia like in the United Kingdom (south England, Wales, and the Midlands), Belgium, the Netherlands, and Ireland.
What is a muntjac deer's habitat?
Their habitat distribution range from forests, shrublands, wetlands to urban woods. Out of all habitats, they mostly prefer coniferous and deciduous forests.
Who do muntjac deer live with?
The muntjacs dislike interaction with their peers and other wildlife. But they become energetic and friendly at the time of mating, to find a suitable partner.
How long does a muntjac deer live?
The Muntjac deer are known to have an average lifespan of 18 years. The males or bucks live for 16 years and the does or females live for 19 years.
How do they reproduce?
Breeding among the muntjacs occurs all year-round. To woo a female, a male muntjac starts barking in their territory. Soon after mating, the female bears the offspring with a gestation period of seven months. Right after a baby's delivery, the female species goes out to mate with other males. Sexual maturity of the muntjac deer occurs within the first year of their life since birth.
What is their conservation status?
At present, the Muntjac deer is listed as a species of Least Concern in the IUCN Red List. However, it is designated as a protected animal in a South Asian country like Hong Kong under their Wild Animals Protection Ordinance Cap 170.
Muntjac Deer Fun Facts
What do muntjac deer look like?
The Muntjac deer or the Chinese muntjac has a brown-coated and hunched back. It is an Artiodactyla, having an even number of toes. Short antlers 4 in (10 cm) in length are present on the male muntjac deer skull while females lack the antlers. Females have dark brown patches on their heads. Their face is unique with black striped lines and pale white cheeks. Their back has a brown fur coating while the underside is white in color. Most muntjacs turn gray to white during winters. They have sharp and white canine teeth called tusks. A distinctly large gland is present beneath their eyes which hangs like a lump.
How cute are they?
While they look cute from the side because of their hunched back, their face looks eerie from the front. Their brown skin and short antlers rising from their small head gives them a cute-looking appearance. Also, their small white canine teeth or tusks look very cute on their face.
How do they communicate?
The muntjac deer is popularly known as the barking deer because of its unique dog-like vocalizations unlike other species of deer. They bark for hours to ward off predators from their territory. The males bark more aggressively than the females when other animals invade their land. The males are seen to come into the female's (doe's) territory to mate and communicates by barking loudly.
How big is a muntjac deer?
The Chinese muntjac deer size is about 3 ft 1 in (0.95 m) long and 1 ft 8 in (0.5 m) in height. These medium-sized species are eight times the size of a rabbit and three times smaller than a Royal Bengal tiger.
How fast can a muntjac deer run?
The exact speed of the muntjac deer is not known. But it can be ascertained that being a species of deer, they have a fast running speed.
How much does a muntjac deer weigh?
The average weight of a barking deer is 22-40 lb (10-18 kg). A fawn's weight is around 1.2-1.4 lbs (550-650 g) at birth.
What are the male and female names of the species?
The males are known as bucks and the females are known as does.
What would you call a baby muntjac deer?
The offspring of a muntjac deer is known as a fawn.
What do they eat?
Being herbivorous wildlife species, their diet consists of herbaceous plants, berries, succulents, grasses, tree bark, and nuts. They are also known to feed on the eggs of other animals occasionally.
Are they dangerous?
The deer muntjac is not dangerous to human beings until provoked in the woods. When provoked or threatened by predators, they bark loudly to ward them off. Instead, humans pose to be their most dangerous predators, hunting them for several purposes.
Would they make a good pet?
The idea of keeping a muntjac deer pet is not feasible enough for a household. This wildlife species survives the best in its habitat range amidst the woods. Already, many of them are hunted by human predators for using their antlers, fur, and tusks to make beauty products. Many countries like Hong Kong have categorized them for conservation and safeguarding them from poaching activities. Hence, it is best to let them live as a wildlife species.
Did you know...
Barking muntjacs can give signals to other animals of large predators like tigers.
The Muntiacus reevesi got its name after an eminent member of the East India Company, John Reeves in the 19th century.
The muntjacs native to Taiwan are darker in color and are known as Formosan reeves muntjacs.
They were first introduced in the 19th century at the Woburn Abbey in Bedfordshire, England.
Are muntjac deer considered pests or vermin?
In England, Muntjac deer are also known as barking deer and are considered to be vermin. Having a herbivorous diet, they end up eating all the plants and agricultural crops around causing problems for the farmers. Also, their breeding habits resemble that of a rabbit, giving birth every now and then, increasing their population.
Is the muntjac deer endemic?
The Muntjac deer was a native of south-east Asia like China but later got introduced to the European countries. So they are not an endemic deer species. However, these bucks do prefer staying in their territories and dislike hanging around in new places. Male fights with other bucks to defend their territories while the does prefer living with other does together in groups in their exclusive habitats.
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