The Reeves Muntjac (Muntiacus reevesi) is a common species of deer in southern China and Taiwan, though it has been brought to Japan and several locations in Europe as well.
This deer, sometimes called the Chinese Muntjac, was named for John Reeves, a 19th century employee of the British East India Company.
On this page we’ll share information about this unique type of deer.
What Size is the Reeves Muntjac
- Head-Body Length – 90 to 110 cm
- Shoulder height – 40 to 55 cm
- Tail length – 15 cm
- Weight – 10 to 20 kg
What Does the Reeves Muntjac Look Like?
The Reeves Muntjac gets its name from John Russell Reeves, who introduced the deer into Britain in the 1830s.
This species of deer is also called the Chinese Muntjac or Barking Deer.
Muntiacus reevesi is one of several very similar species belonging to the Muntiacinae subfamily of deer.
Muntjac deer are considered primitive to the other kinds of deer, and are characterized by their small size, distinctive hunched back and long elongated upper fangs.
The Reeve’s Muntjac is one of the larger Muntjac species of deer.
The coat is a dark brown color, being longer and scruffier in appearance during the winter, while in the summer it is shorter and sleeker. The underparts are usually paler in color — a creamy white.
The tail is long, and has a white underside.
Only the bucks have antlers. These are short and just simple spikes, which grow from long bony pedicles at the top of the head. The antlers grow to a maximum length of 20 cm.
Females do not have antlers, but do possess short bony knobs where the antlers are present in the males. The antlers are not the main weapons of the males; instead the well-developed upper canines are used in preference during fights.
Fangs on the Reeves Muntjac
These upper canines are up to 5 cm long and hang down below the upper lip, and resemble fangs or tusks.
The does also have well-developed canines but these are not as long as those of the males and so are not as noticeable. Bucks are slightly larger and heavier than the does.
Face Markings & Glands
A noticeable feature of this deer are the dark facial stripes, which run from the front of the eyes down the front of the face. These are most prominent in the males, and form a ‘V’ shape. The face of the females is flatter, with the facial shaped forming a diamond like shape.
These frontal facial stripes emphasize the tear glands, which are located directly in front of the eyes of the deer and which are well developed in this species.
Reeves Muntjac are well known for the distinctive bark like calls they give out. These can be emitted for prolonged periods of time. Barking is most common around the main breeding time and is part of the mating behavior of this species, but can be given out at any time of year.
Where do These Deer Live?
Like the other species of muntjac, the Reeves Muntjac is found primarily in Asia, thought it also lives in other locations where it was imported.
Muntiacus reevesi is found in the countries of China, India, Malaysia and other Southeast Asian countries, where it is a relatively common species.
The Reeves Muntjac has been introduced into a number of European counties, including France and Britain.
In Britain they are many found in the south, but have spread further north, thanks to introductions by man.
The Reeves Muntjac is a deer that lives in dense woodland thickets, preferring areas with thick dense undergrowth and good cover.
Its small size allows it to move quickly around the forest floor.
The Reeeves Muntjac browses on foods found on the forest floor, such as leaves, fruits, berries, and grasses.
This species of deer prefers to feed at dawn and dusk, resting during the day.
How Long Does the Reeves Muntjac Deer Live?
The Reeves Muntjac has a maximum lifespan of 16 years, although normally they live no more than 10 years in the wild.
Mating Habits & Reproduction
Unlike other deer species, the Reeves Muntjac is capable of breeding throughout the year. They are not restricted to a narrow rutting period.
Males normally mate with females that are present within or close to their own territories, but sometimes two or three males may compete to mate with a receptive female.
This results in ritualized fighting contests between the males using their antlers and canine teeth. These fights can become fierce and lead to severe injuries.
Gestation & Birth
After a 210-day gestation period between 1 and 3 fawns are born, although twins are most common with this species of deer.
At birth, the deer fawns are dark brown in color, with a number of white spots along their flanks.
After delivering and cleaning off their young, females leave their young in thick vegetation and feed elsewhere. The mother will return regularly to suckle and care for her fawn(s).
When fawns are old enough to flee predators on their own, they will accompany her as she feeds.
Female Reeves Muntjac are able to mate soon after giving birth, and many females are almost constantly pregnant.
The spots of the young fade with age, disappearing completely by the time the fawn is 2 months old.
The fawn is weaned at 4 months of age, and shortly before the mother is due to give birth again she evicts her previous young from her territory.
Young females become sexually mature at about 10 months of age, the males slightly later.
Distinctive Behavior of the Reeves Muntjac
Reeves Muntjac live in small territories, which they defend from others. The territories are marked with secretions from the eye glands, with urine and feces, and by marking vegetation.
The male’s territories overlap a number of female territories. Males will fight intruding males fiercely using their antlers and canines to stab and bite their opponent.
The Reeves Muntjac tend to be fairly solitary in behavior, although females are often seen accompanied by their young or by the resident male. Unlike many other species of deer, they don’t move in herds.
Despite their small size, Muntiacus reevesi males are capable of defending themselves against enemies using their canines.
The alarm call is a short barking sound, and this is why some people refer to this species as “barking deer.”
Muntiacus reevesi are most active at dusk and dawn, and can be active throughout the night as well. During the day they usually rest.