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Reeves's Muntjac Deer

Latin Name: Muntiacus reevesi

Muntjac are said to be the oldest known deer, appearing 15-35 million years ago, remains having been found in France and Germany. Today they are native to Southeast Asia and can be found from India and Sri Lanka to Southern China, Taiwan, Japan and the Indonesian Islands. There are 10 species, but it is the Reeves's Muntjac or Chinese Muntjac, which can be found in the UK.

They were first introduced to Woburn Park in Bedfordshire in the early 20th century, from China . Since then many escapes from Woburn, but also Hertfordshire, Northamptonshire and Warwickshire have reproduced and expanded to lead to feral populations establishing.

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Unlike other species of deer in Britain, Muntjac do not cause significant damage to agricultural or timber crops. However, high population densities may result in the prevention of coppice regeneration and the loss of some plants, such as primulas. The most significant direct economic impact that wild Muntjac have on humans is in collisions with cars.


They are a small, stocky bread with russet brown fur in summer, grey brown in winter. They also have white patches on the chin, throat and rump. The also have tusks, large upper canine teeth, the females are shorter than the males. Other characteristics include long pedicles, large facial glands below the eyes, haunches higher than withers, giving a hunched appearance, wide tail, which is held erect when disturbed, and a Ginger forehead. On the forehead a black V shaped marking running to their nose, whilst the on females it's a dark U shape. Their Antlers are Short (up to 10cm) but on long pedicles, usually unbranched.

Animal Facts

In Britain: All Year

Life Span: Bucks: up to 16 years. Does: up to 19 years, but these are exceptional.

Statistics: Bucks (males): weigh 10-18kg, and Does (females): 9-16kg, they both measure up 43-52cm at shoulder.

Habitat: Deciduous or coniferous forests, preferably with a diverse under-storey (herbaceous and shrub vegetation below the canopy). Also found in scrub and over-grown gardens in urban areas.

Food: Selective feeders that take small morsels from nutritious plants. Diet varies according to region and availability but may include herbs, brambles, ivy, heather, bilberry and coppice shoots. Are known to strip bark from trees.

Breeding: Muntjac are capable of breeding at 8 months old and breed all year round. After a gestation period of 7 months the doe gives birth to a single kid and is ready to mate again within a few days. The kid is weaned after 8 weeks.

Conservation Status

Least Concern

Distribution: Native to SE China and Tiawan, but introduced into parks in the UK. Wild populations in the UK are widespread, although predominantly in the south, and increasing in number and range. Can be found in South and central England and Wales. North of the Humber distribution is patchy but reaches close to the Scottish border.

Behaviour: They are solitary, but small groups may sometimes gather at feeding areas. Territories are around 14 hectares which they rarely leave and the Bucks defend these against other bucks whereas does' territories overlap with each other and with several bucks. They are active both day and night, but the main feeding periods are dawn, dusk, and mid-day.  A common name for muntjac is "barking deer" resulting from the repeated, loud bark given under a number of circumstances. An alarmed muntjac may scream whereas maternal does and kids squeak.

They do not have a defined breeding season and therefore no rut, as they breed all year round.  Bucks may fight for access to Does but are usually tolerant of subordinate males within their vicinity.

Conservation Status: Not endangered. In the UK it's thought they will become the UK's most numerous deer.


See Also

Deer Topic Index

Where to Photograph Deer in the UK 

Photographing deer

Wikipedia Category page for all Muntjac species

British Deer Society

Deer Commission for Scotland


By: Tracey Park Section: Wildlife Key:
Page Ref: muntjac Topic: Deer Last Updated: 03/2010

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