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One of 8 species of muntjac deer

The smallest and oldest deer in the world

It can be recognised through its rounded body, while its arched posture and lowered head mean that its hindquarters are higher up. There is a black V shape on its front. Only male muntjacs have antlers, which can reach 15 cm in length, as well as more strongly developed upper canines, enabling them to defend their territory and access the females during the breeding period. Muntjacs have tails with white undersides, which can be seen when raised as they run. When the muntjac is frightened, it runs away using little jumps. When a predator approaches during the rutting season, muntjacs emit a sound which exactly resembles a dog's bark, which is why it is also known as the barking deer.

Muntjacs are small, solitary deer which are highly territorial. They mark their territory by rubbing their oil glands on plants. During the day they remain hidden in the undergrowth, and are active mainly at dawn and dusk.    

Reeves's muntjac originates from China and Taiwan. It was imported to Europe in the early 20th century for ornamental gardens, from which it escaped. These days it has disappeared in Europe, but a few still remain in the United Kingdom. The muntjac lives mainly in subtropical and mountainous rainforest, but is very well acclimatised to the temperate forests of the UK.

The muntjac is a common and widespread species, but population levels are decreasing due to uncontrolled hunting and the destruction of its habitat. Prized for its skin, which is used to make leather, it is now one of the most hunted mammals, but is not yet considered threatened.

  • Habitat

    Tropical forests close to water sources

  • Food

    Leaves, seeds, bark, fruit, occasionally eggs, birds etc.

Did you know ?

Little is known about Reeves's muntjac, but it is so named in honour of naturalist John Reeves, who discovered it in 1812.

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