NATURE IN CONTROL
Information about the Muntjac Deer - Muntiacus Reevesi
The muntjac deer was introduced into the UK from China in the 20th century. It has gained a stronghold in South East England, where it can cause damage to our woods through browsing. Generally solitary but can sometimes be found in family groups. Bucks defend a territory against other males, but does will overlap with other females more freely.
The small, Chinese muntjac deer was introduced to Woburn Park in Bedfordshire at the start of the 20th century and rapidly spread into the surrounding area. It is now a common animal across South East England and can be found in woodland, parkland and even gardens. Muntjac deer are notorious browsers, eating the shoots from shrubs, as well as woodland herbs and Brambles. Male Muntjacs have short, unbranched antlers that slope backwards, and a pair of long canine teeth. They breed all year-round, but females usually only have one kid at a time. Muntjac deer are also known as 'barking deer' because of their dog-like calls.
How to identify
A very small, stocky deer, the muntjac deer is about the same size as a medium dog. It is gingery-brown, with a pale underside, darker stripes in its face, and small, single-pointed antlers.
Common and increasing in southern England, and spreading northwards.
What do muntjac eat?
Muntjac feed on trees and shrubs, shoots, herbs, berries, nuts and fungi. Up to 85 different plants have been recorded in the species’ diet.
How do muntjac breed?
Unlike other species of deer, muntjac do not have a set rutting period and can mate throughout the year. The gestation period is around 210 days, and does usually give birth to a single fawn, although two are sometimes born. Female muntjacs can become pregnant again just days after giving birth. Fawns are weaned after eight weeks, and females reach sexual maturity within their first year.
They have a long tongue that is used to strip leaves from bushes.
The upper canine teeth of the males are elongated tusks that serve as excellent defense weapons, capable of causing serious injury to predators. Although the antlers of males may be used in battle, the sharp canines are more effective.
Muntjacs are also referred to as "barking deer" due to the deep bark-like sounds they are known to make when on alert. This means of communication is important for this forest dwelling species, which is often found in areas of poor visibility. They are also known to make barking sounds during their mating season.
Did you know?
At least seven species of Muntjac are known, from Pakistan to Java and China. Two species were actually introduced into the UK, but the one that got cosy here is the Reeves' Muntjac.
Both bucks and does mark their territory with scent from special glands on their faces.
Shoulder height: 45-52cm
Average lifespan: 10-13 years
Invasive, non-native species. Protected in the UK under the Deer Act 1991.
When to see
January to December
Signs and spotting tips
You are more likely to see muntjac at dawn or dusk, when they are most active. Keep an eye out for their tracks on the ground – they leave small hoof prints around 2.5cm in length. They're also known as 'barking deer' as they sometimes make a loud barking noise. So if you're in a wood where muntjac are known to reside, listen out for that sound.
Shooting Season: No close season; both sexes may be shot all year round. To avoid orphaning dependent young it is recommended that only smaller young does or clearly pregnant mature ones are taken.
Bucks No Close Season
Does No Close Season