Muntjac Deer

Terminology.

Male Muntjac deer are known as Bucks.

Females are known as Does.

Offspring are known as fawn /fawns.

Origins and History.

Muntjac deer were introduced at Woburn Park Bedfordshire, in the late 19th early 20th Century. A combination of deliberate releases and the inevitable escapees from private collections in Northamptonshire and Warwickshire assisted the establishment of feral populations across the country.

The rise in the population has been so successful that they are the most widely distributed deer in Britain.

Weight

The males can weigh between 10 and 18 kilos.

The females are lighter at 9 - 16 kilos.

Appearance

Stand 18" at the shoulder. In the summer the coat is reddish brown in colour this darkens in winter to a grey brown. Muntjac have a short tail (4") that becomes erect when they are disturbed. The characteristic white flash of the tail signifies a threat or potential danger.

Generally Muntjac bucks grow a single backward curved antler up to 18cms in length, as with the other species of deer the velvet is removed by fraying against young trees. Does do not grow antlers, however they have a characteristic black forehead which means they are easily recognisable. The Buck also has black markings on his forehead but these follow a bony ridge from the base of his antlers down his face to resemble a black V. Bucks also have visible upper canine teeth.

Because Muntjac spend a considerable amount of time with their heads down browsing they appear hunched forward, this often causes the incorrect identification of them as Chinese Water Deer, who are naturally hunched forward, even when not foraging.

Habitat

Dense unmanaged woodland, coppice coupes and areas of wilderness provide the favourite habitat for Muntjac, however they are extremely adaptable to any surrounding. It is not unusual to see Muntjac in urban environments; here they hold small territories in parks and similar areas.

Behaviour

Muntjac feed in bouts lasting from 30 to 40 minutes depending on the availability of food and thereafter retreat to cover to ruminate. They have developed undiscerning feeding habits and although they are predominantly browsers they will take advantage of their diverse habitats, readily eating ivy, bramble, grasses, herbs, fruit, nuts, berries, fungi, flowers, vegetables and coppice. They are also particularly fond of wild bluebells, primroses and orchids.

Also, unlike other species of deer resident in Britain, the Muntjac will bend saplings over by walking on them to enable them to reach the higher foliage that otherwise would be out of their reach.

Muntjac are solitary territorial creatures but as they do not have a specific breeding season are often be seen in pairs browsing young trees and vegetation.

The Muntjac has become so accustomed to human activity that they are quite prepared to feed whilst being passed by a 38 tonne articulated lorry. They are often seen on the side of motorways and seem unaffected by the large volume of passing traffic.

Breeding

Bucks may fight to gain access to a doe but unlike other species of deer Bucks will tolerate subordinate males within their vicinity during the rut (Breeding season).

Muntjac are capable of breeding all year round, the gestation period is seven months and one kid is born per pregnancy. The female is able to conceive the day after giving birth, subsequently a population can double in the space of 18 months, which leads to the continued and inevitable expansion of Muntjac Deer.

Vocalisation

The Buck produces a single loud bark usually heard at dawn, dusk and when a Buck is alarmed. Does and kids usually squeak. Both Buck and Doe have been heard to scream when alarmed.