Indian Muntjac


In the Zoo

Scientific Information

Scientific Name: Muntiacus muntjak vaginalis
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Cervidae
Genus: Muntiacus




Height: 23-30 inches 20-28 inches
Weight: 40-60 pounds 38-56 pounds
Maturity: 1 year 1 year

Lifestyle and Lifespan

Diet: Herbivorous
Activity Timeframe: Crepuscular
Interactivity: Solitary
Sexual Dimorphism: Yes
Gestation: 210 days
Lifespan in the Wild: 17 years
Lifespan in Captivity: 17 years

Geographic Range

Forests of India and Nepal to southern China, Tibet, Sri Lanka, Malay peninsula and Indonesia. Upper elevation range is 10,000 feet.


Status in the Wild:
Threats: Over Consumption


Muntjac are small deer. Their antlers are short and protrude from bony pedicles which continue down the forehead as ridges. There are 12 different distinct species found in Java, southern India, northern India, Burma, and southern China.

Species Specifics

The Indian Muntjac is found in northern India and is a bright chestnut color. It is very similar to the Javan Muntjac but smaller. Coloration varies from deep brown to yellowish or grayish brown with creamy or whitish markings. Body is covered with short, soft hairs, except for the ears, which are sparsely haired. Antlers are carried on long, bony hair-covered pedicels. These pedicels do not originate on the top of the skull as in other deer, but extend some distance down the face, visible externally as prominent ridges. Antlers usually are just spikes. The upper canine teeth of the males are elongated into one-inch tusks. Females have small bony knobs and tufts of hair instead of antlers.

Physical Characteristics

The males' antlers offer physical protection as well as attractants for females. The males also have long canines which are used during fighting with other males.



Muntjac live close to a water source, such as rain forests, monsoon forests, and areas of dense vegetation.



Grasses, leaves, shoots, and fallen fruit.

Ecological Web

Muntjac spread seeds from the fruit in their diet all throughout their range.

Activity and Behavior

Activity Pattern

Some populations are nocturnal while others are diurnal.


The Indian muntjac is often called the "barking deer." When it senses a threat nearby, it will emit a loud, low barking noise for up to an hour, until the threat is gone.

Social Behavior

Muntjac will show submissive body postures towards the dominant individual. This is especially seen in females and sub-adult males. Male muntjac will mark their territory using their preorbital glands on the front of their face.

Reproductive Behavior

Females and males have been observed participating in social grooming of each other. Breeding can happen year-round though there are peak times when the male and female territory will overlap. Adult males will allow immature males to be in their territory because they do not pose a reproductive threat.


Females usually bear one offspring at a time. At six months old, the offspring will leave the mother to find its own territory.



Listed as "Least Concern" by the IUCN.


Muntjac populations have been introduced into Texas, Indonesian island Lombok, and the Bengal islands of Andaman.

Current Threats

Over Consumption

Our Role

How You Can Help

Fascinating Facts

Common names include Northern Red Muntjac, Indian Red Muntjac, Indian Muntjac, and Barking Deer.


Mochi, Ugo and T. Donald Carter. "Hoofed Mammals of the World." Charles Scribner's Sons, 1971.

Walther, Fritz R. "Communication and Expression in Hoofed Mammals." Indiana University Press: Bloomington, 1984.

University of Michigan. Animal Diversity Web. "Muntiacus muntjak."

Red List. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. "Muntiacus vaginalis."

Scott, Peggy. San Diego Zoo Global: ZooNooz. "Near and 'Deer.'"

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9777 Golf Links Road Oakland, CA 94605