Dog Portraits and Animal Portraits by Ann Seward
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Deer Prints and Originals - The Muntjac - Deer Portrait

Original watercolour portrait of a mature muntjac buck, showing a very good head with plenty of pearling.
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Original watercolour portrait of a mature muntjac buck, showing a very good head with plenty of pearling.

 

Muntjac (Reeves Muntjac or “Barking Deer”) are the oldest of all known deer, and are therefore prehistoric. They retain characteristics which have since disappeared in British native species of deer. They were introduced from South East China to Woburn Park, Bedfordshire in the early 20th Century. Since then many escapees successfully populated large areas of the countryside and the Muntjac is now possibly the most widely distributed deer in England Munjacs are small deer with dark red-brown fur and white patches on the chin, throat and underside of the tail. They appear noticeably hunched forward, whilst their raised hindquarters give the impression that their front legs are shorter, though this is not the case. When moving they will hunker down and run with head low and tail raised. They have a barrel like appearance and can often be mistake for foxes in poor light or dense cover. A mature animal will attain a body length of 90cm, and shoulder height 43-46cm with a weight of between 11 and 16kg (the females being slightly smaller). Males have long pedicles from which relatively small antlers grow (max 15cm) that point backwards. In mature animals a small brow tine is produced from the coronet. Mature bucks shed their antlers between March and April and re-grow them by August or September. Both sexes also have tusks which are actually extended upper canine teeth, those of the buck having up to 2-3cm in length visible below the gums, whilst the doe’s are smaller at about 5mm, and not usually visible. In mature and old males these tusks are often broken due to fighting and marking territory, which it will lose when its tusks are no longer effective as a weapon. Males also have a V-shaped marking running from their forehead to their nose. Muntjacs have large eyes, enabling them to see well in low light and thick vegetation. Their line of sight is from the top of the head, rather than down their nose, which may be why the head is carried low during flight. Both bucks and does have spectacular facial markings with large sub-orbital glands, which secrete a thick, waxy cream-coloured substance which is used to scent mark territories and routes. They have the ability to open and close these sub-orbital glands at will and often do so whilst urinating, defecating and during courtship. Muntjacs are browsers, and feed on shrubs, shoots and grass in bouts of between 30 and 40 minutes. They will also happily browse on flower heads, removing the ability of the plant to set seed the following year. Like Roe Deer, they also fray bark from thin saplings, but unlike any other species of deer resident in Britain they bend them first by putting them between their front legs and walking up them. Also, unlike other species of deer Muntjac are solitary, sometimes only gathering at feeding areas. A medium to high-pitched barking is their most common voice. It is often prolonged and repetitive, sometimes lasting up to one hour, earning its nickname of ‘Barking Deeer’. Muntjac breed throughout the year with a gestation period of 210 days. The young (fawn) is weaned after 8 weeks.

 

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