Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Reeves' Muntjac: The Chinese or Barking Deer

Did you know that deer can bark? If you live in Wisconsin you probably answered "no" to that question. The common name for the Reeves' Muntjac is "barking deer" for the loud bark the deer is known to make when they are alarmed. They are also known as Chinese Muntjac.

Muntjacs are the oldest known deer species; fossil remains date to 15 to 35 millions years ago!

These small deer are native to China. Typically only 16 inches in height at the shoulder, the Matjacs coloring ranges from dark brown in summer, grey brown in winter. Their face is tan with a black forehead and nose and have excellent hearing and eyesight; they also have large glands that are visible on their face. The haunches are higher than the withers which gives the deer the appearance of being "hunched."

The males (bucks) have short antlers that are usually unbranched; older bucks occasionally have a brow tine.

Muntjac are found in deciduous forests in southern China and Taiwan; they are also found in the southern portion of Great Britain due to human introduction.

Generally the deer are solitary or found in pairs. Like other deer, bucks will defend small exclusive territories against other bucks whereas the does' territories overlap with each other and with several bucks.

Reeves' Muntjacs require large amounts of cover, usually near a water source and they make their ones out of large broken branches.

Muntjacs are herbivores; their main diet consists of grasses, leaves, tender shoots, sprouts, fruits, seeds and tree bark.

Male's have canines that can grow up to 1 inch long. They primarily use these teeth to fight other males. They also use their antlers are also used to push their opponent off-balance and then the canine teeth are used to wound. Females (does) do not have antlers, but they do have short bony knobs on their heads. Females do have canines, but theirs are smaller than males'.

When the park opens in the spring we hope you'll include the Reeves' Muntjacs exhibit.