A small and solitary Cervid, the Indian muntjac, Muntiacus muntjac, can be identified by two primitive characteristics: long pointed canines protruding from its mouth and two very short antlers.
Mammalia, Cetartiodactyla, Cervidae
65 cm at the shoulder; 35 kg at the most
7 months, 1 baby
Tropical forests, meadows, near water
grasses, leaves, fruit, eggs
from India to south-east Asia
LC, Least concerned
Way of life
When the Indian muntjac is threatened, its cries resemble barking, which is where its other name stems from: “barking deer”. When a predator approaches, it warns other muntjacs and other species of potential “prey”. Very territorial, the male is aggressive towards its fellow muntjacs. Solitary and mostly active at dawn and dusk, the Muntjac spends the day hidden in the grass. The breeding season takes place all year round. Newborns, with their spotted coats, stay hidden in the undergrowth. At around 6 months, they become independent and leave to go and establish their own territory.
The male has retained a primitive nature: two short antlers grow from a long pedicle and large canines prove useful when fighting for access to females. With large preorbital glands, it marks out all the substrates that it finds in its territory.
The Indian muntjac has the fewest chromosomes of all the mammals: Females have 6 while males have 7! As for the Reeves's muntjac, it has 46!
Reeves's muntjacs, a species native to China and introduced in England to populate the Woburn Abbey Park, escaped in the late 19th century. Joined by escapees from other parks or deliberately introduced, this small Asian deer settled in the centre and south of the island, and then went on to colonise Wales... With the absence of predators, except for foxes who can attack the fawns, hunting them is permitted in order to regulate populations.