Males develop small two to three inch antlers and inch long tusk-like upper canine teeth, which are used both for fighting and defense.
Females develop smaller canines and pedicels (small bony knobs) instead of antlers. The Muntjacs coloring ranges from dark brown to yellow or grayish brown, with white markings. Their face is tan and their forehead and nose are black. A darker colored subspecies (Micrurus) resides on the island of Taiwan and is also known as a Reeves’ Muntjac.
Primarily crepuscular (active at twilight and before sunrise,) both diurnal (active during the day) and nocturnal (active during the night) activity has been witnessed. These unusual animals are sometimes called ‘barking deer,’ due to the loud bark-like sound they make when alarmed.
Munjacs are herbivores that forage for ground plants, tender shoots, hardwood tree bark, grass and fallen fruit from dawn through late evening. They are considered pests in some areas where their foraging causes damage to hardwood trees.
These shy creatures prefer to live in forests with dense vegetation. Muntjacs are native to China and Taiwan, although they have escaped from zoo’s to form feral populations in Britain and France.
Leopards, tigers and pythons are their chief native predators, although humans also hunt them for their meat and skin. With a population estimated at over 650,000, Reeves’ Muntjacs are neither endangered nor protected.
Muntjacs are solitary and territorial. They will frequently drive away other herbivores from their chosen territory. When alarmed they will make a loud, sharp barking sound, possibly to warn of the presence of a predator or to frighten the predator away. Males may also use this sound for mating purposes; females often make a mewling sound in response. Males may also use their tusks to fight with other males in a mating ritual.
Birth & Offspring
Females become fertile within their first year and mating occurs throughout the year. Fawns are born between 209 and 220 days after mating and weigh around 20 ounces. It takes around two months for the young deer to be weaned. Fawns are camouflaged with spots that fade away as they grow older.
Muntjacs have excellent hearing and eyesight.
Lydia King is a huge animal lover and has always been fascinated with learning about the animal kingdom. She enjoys writing about anything animal related from scientific information about rare species to animal references in pop culture.