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Muntjac Deer


Muntjac are Britain's smallest deer. They have a reddish-brown summer coat and a dull grey-brown winter coat.

Only the male deer (the bucks) have short antlers, of only about 7cm. The antlers fall off in May and June but grow back by October. The females have a dark kite-shaped patch on top of their heads instead of antlers.

Muntjac deer have protruding canine teeth, these stick out from the upper jaw and look like small tusks.

Habitat and Distribution

Muntjac deer originally come from China and Taiwan. They were brought to London zoo in 1840 and they were placed into the grounds of Woburn Abbey in about 1900. Since then they have bred and spread across the country. They are mostly found in the Midlands. The UK population has been estimated at about 40 000.

Muntjac's favourite place to live is in bramble thickets/ blackberry bushes, especially in young or mixed woodland.


Muntjac's need bushes to provide shelter from driving rain and wind.

Although they live in woodland they will also venture into gardens, wastelands and motorway verges looking for food. The deer mark their territory with scent produced from glands on the head, below the eyes and on the feet. They often strip bark from trees with their feet to cover the bare tree with their scent.


The deer are nocturnal and live alone. The female deer is called a doe, the male deer is called a buck. Muntjac deer can breed all year round. One fawn is born after a pregnancy of 210 days. Soon after the doe quickly becomes pregnant again. Fawns can walk immediately and run within two or three days. Their coats are spotted for the first eight weeks. As well as grass, fawns feed on their mother's milk for the first eight weeks. Fawns and their mothers call to each other.

Feeding Habits

Grass and herbs are a major part of the Muntjac's diet in spring and summer, including bluebells and dog's mercury. They eat nuts and fruits in Autumn as well as garden plants and food from bird tables. Muntjac's also feed on Yew a plant which is poisonous to many other animals, including humans.


Young fawns are vulnerable to foxes, dogs and cats. Many Muntjac deer also die by being knocked down on the roads.

Muntjac can live to an age of 15 years, although many die before reaching this age.

When frightened the Muntjac raises its tail to create a bright white flash, it also makes the hair on its body stand up, this makes it look bigger.

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Updated: 28/03/2018