Small dog sized deer. Red/brown coat in summer, darker brown in winter. Only one or two are seen together. Dark rump with conspicuous white underside of tail that is seen when held vertical when alarmed. Antlers of mature male small single spikes pointing backwards. Males have distinctive tusks (upper canine teeth) that protrude just below the lip.
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Muntjac have the smallest footprints of all deer species. They are 2cm in width and 3-4cm in length.
Deer droppings do not have obvious coloration or smell. The droppings tend to be of a similar shape across all species, although muntjac droppings are the smallest of all species.
The muntjac has a dark rump with a short tail with no stripes. It holds its tail up when alarmed, showing a white underside.
Well-established across most of England especially in the south, as well as parts of Wales. (Maps are based on expert advice, as of 2007. Some species ranges may have changed in the time since. We are currently in the process of updating the maps.)
Primarily browsers rather than grazers (feeding on trees/shrubs rather than grasses and ground vegetation).
males 10 years, females 13 years
Chinese Water Deer (Hydropotes inermis)
Tail stumpy, never held upright as in muntjac (which holds it up to show the white underside when alarmed). No antlers in male, only long curved ‘tusks’ (upper canine teeth) protruding to around 7cm below lip. Muntjac male will also have protruding canine tusks, but are much shorter (around 2cm below lip) and will also usually have short, single spike, backward-pointing antlers. It is often said that the chinese water deer face looks like a teddy bear. Muntjac has two vertical stripes down the face, on the inside of each eye.
Roe Deer (Capreolus capreolus)
Cream/white rump (oval shaped in males and upside down heart shape in females). No visible tail. Muntjac’s rump is same colour as rest of coat, but underside of tail is white, which is held upright when alarmed.Roe does not have any tusks (protruding upper canine teeth) whilst muntjac does. Roe has small pointed antlers, with no more than 3 points. Muntjac has single-spiked, backwards-pointing antlers which are not branched. Roe has distinctive black nose and white chin. Muntjac has two vertical stripes down the face, on the inside of each eye.
Chris Matcham says:
“The red deer, fallow deer and sika deer are grazers (feeding on ground vegetation) and these animals typically can be seen in fields and open spaces as they crop the grass. They are therefore very visible when they eat like this and, just like animals on the African plains, form herds as there is safety in numbers since, with heads down, they can’t so easily see predators approaching. Grass is not very nutritious so they just munch their way across the fields. Very often, one or two animals act as guards and don’t eat. Then the roles swap.
Roe and Muntjac are not typically grazers, they browse the shoots from shrubs and other plants so are more likely to be found in scrub and woodland. Now, in woodland it pays to be solitary as a herd walking through a wood makes a lot of noise (I’ve seen/heard this in the New Forest) and this racket would both attract predators and, with all the crashing noise, make it difficult to hear them approaching. The more solitary roe and muntjac are able to walk quietly since they are also smaller. I know that reds and fallow also browse trees, hence the “browse line” on trees but this does tend to be at the woodland edge rather than deep in the forest. Curiously, on the plains of eastern Europe, roe have to graze more so form small herds when they feed on the open spaces.”