On this page we’ll share some information and facts about Muntjac Deer. You may know this type of deer by their other names, including “barking deer” (because of their short, loud noise they make when they sense danger) or “rib-faced deer” (because of their unique appearance). This species, of the genus Muntiacus, is native to the wilds of southern and southeastern Asia.
Muntjacs are rather prehistoric in appearance, and are easy to distinguish from what many people traditionally think of deer (i.e. White Tailed Deer, Mule Deer, Roe Deer, etc.). It’s thought that this genus began appearing on earth at least 15 million years ago, and some believe they existed some 35 million years ago.
On this page we will profile nine of the most common and interesting subspecies of the Muntiacus deer family.
9 Types of Muntjac Deer
Now let’s take a closer look at nine of the most common types of Muntjac Deer found around the world. These include:
- Reeves Muntjac (Muntiacus reevesi)
- Bornean Yellow Muntjac (Muntiacus atherodes)
- Fea’s Muntjac (Muntiacus feae)
- Indian Muntjac (Muntiacus muntjak)
- Giant Muntjac (Muntiacus vuquangensis)
- Black Muntjac (Muntiacus crinifrons)
- Truong Son Muntjac (Muntiacus truongsonensis)
- Leaf Muntjac (Muntiacus putaoensis)
- Gongshan Muntjac (Muntiacus gongshanensis)
Click on the links to learn more about each of these Muntjac subspecies.
The Reeves Muntjac (Muntiacus reevesi) lives in the wild in Taiwan and Southern China. People have imported it to parts of Europe and Japan as well.
You may hear this deer species called the Chinese Muntjac after its native range. But the Reeves Muntjac was given its official name by John Reeves, a notable member of the British East India Company in the 19th century.
Bornean Yellow Muntjac
The Bornean Yellow Muntjac (Muntiacus atherodes) roams the humid forests of Borneo alongside the Common Muntjac.
It is very similar in appearance to the common Muntjac deer. The Bornean Yellow Muntjac was only recognized as a separate species recently. There is a slight color difference between the two, and the antlers of Muntiacus atherodes are shorter and smaller.
These deer are the preferred prey of the Bornean tiger.
Sometimes referred to as the Tenasserim Muntjac, this rare but beautiful Muntjac species (Muntiacus feae) is native to Thailand and the southern Myanmar.
The Fea’s Muntjac is a small deer which prefers to live alone in upland forests. This deer species earned its name from Leonardo Fea, the zoologist.
You may have heard the Indian Muntjac Deer (Muntiacus muntjak) called the Barking Deer or Southern Red Muntjac. It is one of the smallest deer species, and is easily distinguishable due to its red coloration, large scent glands, and tusks.
When startled in the wild it will produce a crisp barking alarm call that has earned it its nickname: the “barking deer.”
Discovered in 1994 in a remote part of northern Vietnam, the Giant Muntjac deer (Muntiacus vuquangensis) is hard to miss. As its name would suggest it is one of the largest of the muntjac species, its shoulder height being up to 70 cm, making it about twice the size of other known species of muntjac deer.
The coat of the Giant Muntjac is a dark brown color.
Since it was only recently discovered, we don’t know much about this animal. But it does appear to be under threat from hunters and loss of habitat, like many other Muntjac species listed on this page.
Numbers of Black Muntjac deer (Muntiacus crinifrons) are falling rapidly. Only 5,000 are thought to be left remaining in the wild.
These deer, sometimes called the Hairy-Fronted Muntjac, are at risk due to over-hunting and habitat loss.
You’ll find these deer in eastern central China, where they live in mixed forest areas and are similar in appearance to the Indian Muntjac deer species.Photo courtesy J. Patrick Fischer, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Truong Son Muntjac
The Truong Son Muntjac (Muntiacus truongsonensis) was discovered in 1997 in central Vietnam.
We don’t know much about its biology or way of life.
It is a small species of deer, weighing about 15 kg when fully grown. It may be under threat because of loss of its preferred forest habitat.
There is very little we know about the Leaf Muntjac species (Muntiacus putaoensis). Discovered in northern Myanmar in 1997, a DNA sample was used as evidence that this deer is a unique species.
The Leaf Muntjac is one of the smallest of the Muntjac deer species, having a shoulder height of less than 50 cm.
Its distribution and conservation status are unknown as of yet.
The Gongshan Muntjac (Muntiacus gongshanensis) is a reclusive type of deer found in Tibet and northern Myanmar. You’ll see these deer in Khakaborazi National Park and the Hponkanrazi Wildlife Sanctuary.
Numbers appear to be falling due to over-hunting by local people, but it is somewhat unclear since there is a lack of research on the population.
Some genetic studies suggest that Muntiacus gongshanensis may be the same species as the Black Muntjac. But most people dispute the research suggesting that the Gongshan Muntjac is merely a variant of Muntiacus crinifrons, so we’ve included it here.