Six species of the Cervidae or deer family live wild in Britain today although only two species (the Roe Deer and Red Deer) can be considered indigenous. The others, namely Chinese Water Deer, Fallow, Sika and Muntjac Deer have been introduced from abroad.

Muntjac deer

(Muntiacus Reevesil)

Measuring approximately 50 cm at shoulder height, about the size of a large dog, Muntjac deer do in fact ‘bark’ when frightened or annoyed. Their coat varies from a deep shiny brown to a rusty ginger with a white underside. The male (buck) has small antlers pointing backwards measuring up to five inches which are cast each year around May or June. Males also have a v-shaped marking running from their forehead to their nose. The female (doe) has tufts of hair in place of antlers and both sexes have tusks, which are extended upper canine teeth.


All Muntjac deer are descendants of escapees from Woburn Park in Bedfordshire where they were introduced from China in the early 1900s. Owing to a lack of natural predation and favourable general habitat they are spreading fast across southern England and into Wales and now populate around two thirds of England.

Habitat in the UK

Muntjac are secretive, solitary creatures who favour dense woodland cover with large amounts of bramble or low bushes offering food and shelter. However woodland outskirts and nearby gardens are often frequented by the species.

Muntjac are territorial, occupying areas of around 14 hectares which they rarely leave.


Breeding takes place all year round and after a gestation period of around seven months the doe gives birth to a spotted fawn weighing approximately 1 kg. The fawn is weaned after eight weeks. Soon after the birth the doe comes into season, is mated and may conceive again within two or three days.


Muntjac are browsers and feed on shrubs, shoots, grass, bramble, herbs, nuts, fruit, coppice shoots and flowers. This concentrated grazing can damage trees, farm crops, woodland shrubs, ground flora and garden plants. Muntjac are active both day and night but the main feeding periods are at dawn, dusk and during the day.


Muntjac deer are not considered to be endangered and some landowners may control populations particularly when crops are being damaged. As they are non-native to Britain they do not have a natural predator and therefore their numbers are rising fast.


Muntjac are capable of eating most plants and do not discriminate against rare and protected species such as <• orchids! Unfortunately Muntjac can penetrate most fences, so the only effective way of protecting rare plants is to employ a deer stalker. 

The Berkshire. Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust is one of 47 county based Wildlife Trusts. For further information about your local Wildlife Trust please call +44 (0)1636 677711 or look on The Wildlife Trusts website


Wendy Chaffin BBOWT


To cite this article use either

DOI: 10.1111/j.2045-0648.2011.00138.x or Veterinary Nursing Journal Vol 27 pp 32.

• VOL 27 • January 2012 • Veterinary Nursing Journal