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The Muntjac Deer: What You Need to Know

Male muntjac called “bucks”, females “does” and the young “fawn”.

Male Muntjac deer (bucks) weigh between 10 and 18 kg when fully grown, while female Muntjac (does) weigh 9 and 16 kg. In comparison, an average adult man in the United Kingdom is 1.77 m tall and weighs 79 kg.

Muntjacs are greyish brown in colour throughout the year, turning to a dull grey in winter.

Muntjacs, like most deer species, have a hunched posture and rumps that are higher than their shoulders. Their tail is large and flat, and it is erected upright when alarmed to reveal a white underside.

The upper antlers of a Muntjac are tiny and have a long fur-covered base (pedicle). These are typically slightly incurved with no branching, but they may have short brow tines occasionally.

The male’s face is striped with deep, downward black lines and has a light-coloured brow and cheeks. Large facial glands are visible below the eyes. The ears are oval in shape. It does not have antlers, but it does have a dark crown patch on its head.

Muntjacs have tiny hoof imprints (slots), which are about 2.5cm long.

History, Distribution and habitat

In the early 20th century, muntjacs were introduced from China to Woburn Park in Bedfordshire. They have since expanded their range and number. The deliberate release and escapes from Woburn, Northamptonshire, and Warwickshire resulted in the formation of feral populations.

The intentional release resulted in their rapid spread throughout southern and central England and Wales, but distribution is patchy beyond the Humber, reaching close to the Scottish border. Muntjacs prefer deciduous or coniferous woodlands, but they will also live in scrub and overgrown urban gardens.

Muntjacs, unlike other deer species in the United Kingdom, usually do not cause significant damage to agricultural or timber crops, although they can be a problem for gardeners, allotment holders, and others. However, dense populations may prevent coppice regeneration and the loss of some endangered flora species, such as primulas.

Because muntjac hunting is relatively recent, there isn’t much of a history of muntjac stalking on rural and forest estates. Collisions with cars are the most significant immediate economic impact that muntjac have on humans everyday life, which has both health and financial consequences.

Muntjac Facts

  • Origins – Muntjac deer are believed to have originated 15-35 million years ago.
  • Other names – Muntjac (Muntiacus reevesi) are also called rib-faced deer or barking deer
  • Birthing – One fawn; does come into season almost immediately after giving birth.
  • Behaviour – Bucks, when fighting, use their antlers to push opponents off balance before slashing at them with their tusks.
  • Food – A feeder that can accept the most high-quality browse, including shoots, leaves, and herbs in season.
  • Population – Muntjacs have grown extensively over the past few decades, and they can now be found in most English counties as well as Wales.
  • Countries – Muntjacs are native to Asia and can be found across India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Vietnam, the Indonesian islands, Taiwan, and Southern China.
  • Antlers – Between May and July, most muntjac bucks shed their antlers and replace them during the summer. The new antlers are generally hard and clean by September. However, there are no hard-and-fast rules in nature, and muntjacs do not have a precise season for antler loss.
  • Season – There are no set shooting seasons; both males and females may be hunted at any time of year. Only smaller juvenile deer or clearly pregnant mature ones should be taken to avoid orphaning dependent young.

Breeding, Behaviour and Lifecycle

Muntjacs do not have a set breeding season in contrast to all other deer species in the UK. Instead, they breed all year and the does may conceive again after just a few days of giving birth. Bucks may compete for access to does, but they are unusually tolerant of subordinate males within their range.

Does can breed at seven months old. Within a few days of giving birth to a single fawn, they are ready to mate again.

Bucks can live up to 16 years and does up to 19 years, however, these are exceptional cases.

Muntjacs are solitary or found in pairs. Pair bonding does not take place in muntjacs, although bucks defend modest individual domains against other males. Does’ ranges overlap with each other and with many bucks, while bucks’ territories are limited to single areas.

The muntjac is a species of barking deer that vocalizes in a variety of circumstances. For its size, the bark is repeated and loud. When frightened, muntjac screams as well. A sequence of squeaks is used to communicate between does and their younglings.

Muntjacs are active 24 hours a day, but they prefer to utilize open areas during the hours of darkness in disturbed populations. At dawn and dusk, activity is at its peak. There are long periods where the deer lies down to ruminate after feeding.

Why hunt Muntjac Deer?

The muntjac is one of the most ancient living deer-like species. Males have short and seldom fork antlers with big canines, which gives them a ‘vampire deer’ appearance.

Muntjacs are small deer that were brought to Britain well over a century ago, but they didn’t attract much interest from hunters until lately. Population control is one of the most important reasons for hunting muntjac deer. Even though they don’t cause as much damage to crops as other species of deer, there may be long-term

What could be more essential for hunters, though, is that these animals provide an accessible and demanding large-game hunting opportunity only a few kilometres from the United Kingdom’s largest cities.

Are Muntjac deer a pest?

Muntjacs can be a serious pest in gardens, conservation woodlands, and occasionally in forests. Deciduous woodland coppicing for the purpose of producing firewood or for the protection of other plants and animals may be severely hampered by regular recutting.

Can you eat Muntjac?

The Muntjac is tiny yet exceptionally tasty. They can breed all year, so there is no fall or winter off-season like with roe or fallow. … The best thing about Muntjac is the flavour: it resembles lamb more than red deer venison but has a fine texture and leanness.

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