Chinese Water Deer – Hydropotes inermis
Water deer seem to prefer wetlands adjoining woodland and fen, though they often range onto nearby farmland. They are most evident in the Norfolk Broads and in the coastal wetlands. A feral, uncontained, population in the grounds of Whipsnade inhabits parkland and dry woodland, with no wetland available.
Small deer with sandy brown coat in summer, paler in winter with rump same colour and a stumpy tail. No antlers but males have long curved tusks (upper canine teeth) protruding past the lip.
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Footprints: Chinese Water Deer have small footprints, only muntjac have smaller prints. Width 3-4cm, length 4-5cm. However, be very careful not confuse these with sheep or goat footprints.
Droppings: Deer droppings do not have obvious coloration or smell. The droppings tend to be of a similar shape across all species.
Tail: The Chinese water deer has a dark rump, but most importantly, only a very small stumpy tail.
Muntjac deer (Muntiacus reevesi)
Tail held vertical when alarmed to show white underside, chinese water deer does not do this. Male has short single spike antlers pointing backwards, non-existent in chinese water deer. Males also have ‘tusks’ (upper canine teeth) protruding about 2cm below lip. These are much smaller than the chinese water deer’s tusks, which reach around 7cm below the lip. Muntjac has two vertical stripes down the face, on the inside of each eye. It is often said that chinese water deer face looks like a teddy bear.
Roe deer (Capreolus capreolus)
Cream/white rump (oval shaped in males and upside down heart shape in females), with no visible tail. Chinese water deer rump is same colour as rest of coat and has a stumpy tail. Roe does not have any tusks (protruding upper canine teeth) whilst chinese water deer does. Roe has small pointed antlers, with no more than 3 points. Chinese water deer has no antlers. Roe has distinctive black nose and white chin. It is often said that chinese water deer face looks like a teddy bear.