The muntjac deer

By David Chapman, Wednesday 18 January 2012

The muntjac deer, Muntiacus reevesi, is the smallest deer found in Britain but it isn’t a native species as it originated from China and India
Muntjac deerMuntjac deer

Muntjacs were first established as captive breeding animals at Woburn, Bedfordshire, in the late 19th century; they soon escaped captivity, started to breed in the wild and have spread rapidly. They are now found south of a line between North Wales and the Humber Estuary with isolated pockets elsewhere. They are commonest in the south midlands and East Anglia. It is estimated that their current population is around 40,000 and that they are increasing at a rate of 10% per annum.

They are proving to be very successful animals in the British countryside and this is partly due to their breeding rate. Since muntjacs are native to sub-tropical parts of the world they are not seasonal breeders, instead they breed approximately every seven months, raising a single fawn each time. Females reach maturity in less than a year and can live to be 15 years old.

Our native deer are often hunted because they are large enough to yield a worthwhile supply of meat but muntjacs are very small, standing to a height of only 50cm to the shoulder (the height of a springer spaniel), and aren’t valued for their meat so in Britain the muntjac doesn’t have any effective predators.

Muntjacs stay well hidden, usually living in the dense undergrowth of woodland and large gardens where they eat leaves of ivy, bramble, coppiced trees as well as fruit, nuts and seed. Often the only signs of muntjac deer are the damage they cause to shrubs through grazing and the noises that they make. Muntjacs are also known as barking deer because they have a very loud harsh bark which they use to find mates and they also make various clicks and screams when alarmed.

With a good view it is relatively easy to identify a muntjac. Males have upper canine teeth which project from their mouths like tusks and single spiked antlers which are shed in summer. Their coat is chestnut, greyer in the winter, with an area of white on their underside. Both male and female have dark lines on their faces and below the eyes have large scent glands, with which they mark their territory by rubbing against posts and branches.


  • Fox cubs

    The fox

    The fox's beauty captivates wildlife writer and photographer, David Chapman

    Read on

  • Badger

    The badger

    If you have badgers visiting your garden then May is the best time to try to watch them.

    Read on

  • Wood mouse

    The wood mouse

    David Chapman introduces this appealing autumnal garden visitor

    Read on

  • The harvest mouse by David Chapman

    The harvest mouse

    Despite its name, the tiny harvest mouse is as likely to be found in hedgerows and meadows throughout the year

    Read on

  • House mice photographed by David Chapman

    Garden wildlife watch: the house mouse

    The mouse that needs to live close to humans.

    Read on

  • evrod samuel

    Posted: Saturday 21 January 2012

    i have seen a few times in snarebrook forest london these deers. they are lovely.


Type your comment here

 characters remaining.

The muntjac deer

The muntjac deer, Muntiacus reevesi, is the smallest deer found in Britain but it isn’t a native species as it originated from China and India

Saga Magazine

£3 for 3 issues

For more fascinating stories and insightful articles, why not try Saga Magazine for just £3 for 3 issues.

Saga Dating

The over 50s dating website from Saga

  • Create your dating profile in less than 5 minutes
  • Our unique two-way matching process will help you find your perfect partner
  • Protected by the Online Dating Association