Chinese Water Deer

Terminology.

Male Chinese Water deer are known as Bucks.

Females are known as Does.

Offspring are known as fawns

Origins and History.

Chinese Water deer were introduced at London Zoo in 1873, but escaped from Whipsnade Zoo after their introduction there in 1923. Originally being centred on their site of escape they slowly spread to surrounding areas, however unlike the Muntjac these deer have not been able to breed as prolifically. Introductions to deer parks across the country and the inevitable escapees have assisted the population spread although the wet habitats of the Cambridgeshire fens and Norfolk Broads seem to be the only areas where they thrive. The British population is thought to be approximately 10% of the world population. In China they are nearly extinct!

Weight

The males and females can weigh between 11 and 18 kilos.

Appearance

Stand between 18 - 20" at the shoulder. In summer the coat is reddish brown this lightens in winter to a sandy brown. Chinese Water deer have a no visible tail only a small bob. Both sexes have large protruding tusks but the male has no antlers, therefore identification of sexes in the field is difficult. The tusks in the male are larger.

The Chinese Water deer is an intermediate species between the Muntjac and Roe deer. They have large rounded ears, which gives them the look of a teddy bear. They also stand slightly taller at the back haunch, which naturally gives them an appearance of being hunched up; this often confuses and it is quite common for the two species to be confused.

Habitat

Unlike the Muntjac the Chinese Water deer is particularly selective about it's choice of habitat, it can usually be found in Reed beds and neighbouring woodland as this replicates its natural habitat in China.

Behaviour

Chinese Water deer are active through out the 24-hour period; the peak time of activity is around dusk. As with the other species of deer they retreat to cover after feeding to ruminate. They are predominately browsers of grasses, sedges and brambles.

Chinese Water deer are solitary creatures but may form groups / pairs in areas where there is a high density.

Breeding

Chinese Water deer breed during November, December and into January, the gestation period is six to seven months and one to six fawns are born per pregnancy. Up to 40% of offspring will die in the first 4 weeks of life. Hence the large number of young produced and the slower rate of population spread in comparison to the Muntjac. Most births occur between May and July. Bucks and does form pairs and will defend their territories during the rut, they will remain together until April. Unlike antlered species, fighting in Chinese Water deer rarely results in a fatality, although injuries are common.

Vocalisation

Both sexes give a short bark when alarmed or as a warning. Bucks are known to make a chattering noise when in pursuit of other deer this is called whickering. Both sexes scream when chased, whistling and squeaking noises are emitted by the buck as he follows a doe during the rut.