Musk deerartiodactyls of the genus Moschus, the only genus of family Moschidae. They are more primitive than the cervids, or true deer, in not having antlers or facial glands, in having only a single pair of teats, and in possessing a gall bladder, a caudal gland, a pair of tusk-like teeth and—of particular economic importance to humans—a musk gland.
CharacteristicsMusk deer resemble small deer with a stocky build, and hind legs longer than their front legs. They are approximately 80-100 cm in length, 50-70 cm tall at the shoulder, and weigh between 7 and 17 kg. The feet of musk deer are adapted for climbing in rough terrain. Like the Chinese Water Deer, a cervid, they have no antlers, but the males do have enlarged upper canines, forming sabre-like tusks. The dental formula is similar to that of true deer:
The musk gland is found only in adult males. It lies in a sac located between the genitals and the umbilicus, and its secretions are most likely used to attract mates. Musk deer are herbivores, living in hilly, forested environments, generally far from human habitation. Like true deer, they eat mainly leaves, flowers, and grasses, with some mosses and lichens. They are solitary animals, and maintain well-defined territories, which they scent mark with their caudal glands. Musk deer are generally shy, and either nocturnal, or crepuscular.
Males leave their territories during the rutting season, and compete for mates, using their tusks as weapons. Female musk deer give birth to a single fawn after about 150-180 days. The newborn young are very small, and essentially motionless for the first month of their life, a feature that helps them remain hidden from predators.
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