Indian MuntjacThe Common Muntjac, also called Indian Muntjac (Muntiacus muntjak) is the most numerous muntjac deer species. It has soft, short, brownish or greyish hair, sometimes with creamy markings. This species is omnivorous, feeding on fruits, shoots, seeds, birds' eggs as well as small animals and even carrion. It gives calls similar to barking, usually on sensing a predator (hence the common name for all muntjacs of barking deer).
The male Indian Muntjac has small antlers which attain 15 cm in length and have only 1 branch. They grow annually from a bony stalk on the head. Males are extremely territorial and can be fierce for their size. They will fight each other for territory using their antlers or their (more dangerous) tusk-like upper canine teeth, and can defend themselves against predators such as dogs.,
BehaviorIndian Muntjacs are regarded as extremely solitary animals rarely observed with other muntjacs, except for a mother and her young and during the rutting season. Males acquire territories that they mark with scent markers by rubbing their frontal preorbital gland (located on their head) on the ground and on trees, scraping their hooves against the ground, and scraping the bark of trees with their lower incisors. These scent markers allow other Muntjacs to know whether a territory is occupied or not. Males will often fight with each other over these territories, sufficient vegetation, and for primary preference over females when mating using their short antlers and an even more dangerous weapon, their canines. If a male is not strong enough to acquire his own territory he will most likely become prey to a leopard or some other predator. During the time of the rut, territorial lines are temporarily disregarded and overlap while males roam constantly in search of a receptive female.
These deer are incredibly alert creatures. When put into a stressful situation or if a predator is sensed, Muntjacs will begin making a bark-like sound. Barking was originally thought of as a means of communication between the deer during mating season as well as an alert. However, in more recent studies it has been identified as a mechanism used solely in alarming situations meant to cause a predator to realize that it has been detected and move elsewhere or to reveal itself. The barking mechanism is used more frequently when visibility is reduced and can last for over an hour regarding one incident.
DietThe Indian Muntjacs are classified as omnivores. They are considered both browsers and grazers with a diet consisting of grasses, ivy, prickly bushes, low growing leaves, bark, twigs, herbs, fruit, sprouts, seeds, tender shoots, bird eggs and small warm-blooded animals. Indian Muntjacs are typically found feeding at the edge of the forest or in abandoned clearings. Their large canines help in the processes of retrieving and ingesting food.
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