Reeve’s Muntjac Fact File
Wild 10-12 years
Captive 18 years
Flowers, Grass, Nuts
Reeve’s muntjac is among the smaller species of deer and is found naturally in China and Taiwan. An extensive introduced population exists in the United Kingdom as the result of a release in the early 1900s.
These animals are omnivores. They primarily browse for plant matter but may also eat eggs or carrion.
Each year a female produces a single young or twins. These heavily spotted fawns reach their adult size in just 6 months and can begin to breed. Despite their fast growth they may live for up to 12 years in the wild.
They are threatened across their range due to habitat loss and hunting.
Read on to learn more about these delightful deer.
The coat of the reeve’s muntjac is chestnut-colored across most of the body with a white chin, throat and underside. A black stripe runs along the nape of the neck. Females are typically lighter in color than the males. Males tend to be slightly larger than females.
At the end of the body is a 10cm (4in) long tail. On top this is black with white below.
Reeve’s muntjac possess a pair of canine teeth which protrude out from the mouth. These may be 5cm (2in) long.
Males possess a pair of short antlers which stick out from the head with the lower portion covered by fur. At their largest these antlers reach just 15cm (6in) long. Females have just a small bony knob which is coated with fur.
These antlers are shed and regrown each year. They take 103 days to grow. This typically occurs during summer.
An average reeve’s muntjac has a length of 0.6-1.4m (2-4.75ft) long with a weight of 14-33kg (30-73lbs). At the shoulder they stand 43-45cm (16.9-17.7in) tall.
Reeve’s muntjac is an omnivore. They feed on bamboo, seeds, bark, fruit and foliage along with eggs and carrion.
They tend to select items which are small but have high nutrient levels. This leads to them primarily browsing for food.
Asia is the native home of the reeve’s muntjac. Here they can be found in China and Taiwan.
Introduced populations of this species have established in the United Kingdom and France with the French population now extinct.
They were first introduced to the United Kingdom in 1901 at Woburn and further escapes from Whipsnade Zoo expanded this population. The population continues to expand at a rather fast rate.
Further introduced populations may still exist in Japan, Ireland, Belgium and the Netherlands.
This is an adaptable species of deer which may be found in warm subtropical areas along with temperate forests that experience occasional snowfall and areas of grassland.
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Males will gain access to the females by defending a territory which overlaps theirs. When the female is in estrus they may fight other males for access. In their natural habitat they breed year round.
While males do have antlers during the rut (primary breeding season) they primarily use the canines in battles with other animals.
Males emit a buzzing sound when they find a female they hope to mate with and if she is submissive she will emit a whine.
These animals give birth to a single calf after a 209-220 day gestation period. Twins have been recorded on rare occasions.
At birth the young, known as fawns are covered with spots but these mostly fade by two months old.
Young are fast growing and require little parental investment. They will drink milk for 17 weeks. Adulthood is reached by just 6 months old and leave their parents territory to find their own.
Females reach sexual maturity at just 5-6 months old in captivity though it occurs later in the wild.
These animals are solitary. Sometimes they will move around in a pair or a small group.
Reeve’s muntjac is primarily crepuscular and will be most active for a couple of hours around sunrise and sunset. Their is variation with activity through the seasons primarily in the afternoon.
Both males and females defend a territory. That of the male is larger to overlap those of many females.
Males show some tolerance for young males which have not yet grow antlers in their territory as they represent no threat to their females.
The call of the reeve’s muntjac when threatened sounds like the bark of a dog. This call warns ambush predators they have been spotted and lost their element of surprise. On occasion this has also helped humans.
Reeve’s muntjac will move through the forest on trails which they use frequently. This often reduces the foliage along these routes.
Predators and Threats
Natural predators of the reeve’s muntjac include leopards, tigers, jackals, dholes, crocodiles and pythons.
No major predators are present in the United Kingdom which has allowed the population to grow. They may potentially face predation from the red fox.
Reeve’s muntjac will defend themselves using the canine teeth. These are employed during fights over territory with other males and can injure a dog or other attacking animal.
The population of the reeve’s muntjac is declining. No recent population estimate exists with the most recent from the 1980s suggesting a population of two million individuals.
Their population has been declining as a result of habitat destruction and hunting. Hunting takes place for food and hides to sell at fur markets.
In some parts of their range they have been perceived as a pest due to their habit of stripping bark from trees.
Throughout their range in the United Kingdom they have increasingly become the victim of vehicle strikes.
Reeve’s muntjac is also known as the barking deer due to the sound of their call. They may be called the Chinese muntjac due to their range.
Their genus name, Muntiacus comes from a Sunda language and means muntjac.
Reeve’s muntjac were named in 1812 for John Reeves of the East India company.
gailhampshire from Cradley, Malvern, U.K, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Middle One and Bottom
Bardrock, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
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Bds.org.uk. 2020. Identifying Reeves’ Muntjac Deer. [online] Available at: <https://www.bds.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Muntjac_Leaflet.pdf> [Accessed 5 September 2021].
Southwick’s Zoo. 2021. Reeve’s Muntjac – Southwick’s Zoo. [online] Available at: <https://southwickszoo.com/our-animals/reeves-muntjac/> [Accessed 5 September 2021].
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