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Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Chordata
    Class: Mammalia
      Order: Artiodactyla
        Family: Cervidae
          Subfamily: Cervinae
            Genus: Muntiacus

Muntiacus reevesi

      Reeves's muntjac


Muntiacus reevesi [Ogilby, 1839].  
Citation: Proc. Zool. Soc. Lond., 1838:105 [1839].
Type locality: China, Kwangtung (= Guangdong), near Canton.

Click on the pictures above for a larger view of the photographs

General Characteristics

Body Length: 90 cm / 3 ft.
Shoulder Height: 40 cm / 16 in.
Tail Length: 10 cm / 4 in.
Weight: 11-16 kg / 24-35 lb.

The short, soft coat is a reddish brown in colour, with the undersides, including the lower legs and the ventral surface of the neck and chin, fading to creamy white.  The forehead and nose are black, while the surrounding face is generally a pale tan.  Males have small tusk-like canines, which can grow up to 2.5 cm / 1 inch long and small antlers, averaging 7-8 cm / 2.75-3.2 inches in length.  These are mounted on skin-covered pedestals which slope back from the face.  Females also have remnant pedicels which are seen as small bony knobs on the forehead.  The body is rounded, and the legs are slender, the overall form resembling that of the South American agouti.

Ontogeny and Reproduction

Gestation Period: 7 months.
Young per Birth: 1, sometimes 2.
Weaning: At 2 months.
Sexual Maturity: At 6-12 months.
Life span: Up to 17 years.

Breeding occurs primarily from January to March

Ecology and Behavior

Captive observations indicate that the Reeves's muntjac is primarily crepuscular, active at dawn and dusk, although both diurnal and nocturnal activity have been reported.  When alarmed or in the presence of potential danger, muntjacs make a sharp barking sound, which is surprisingly loud and gives them their alternate name "barking deer".  There are a number of possible explanations for this behaviour, although the true reason is not known.  This noise may serve as a warning to the predator that it has been spotted, and hence that its chances of a successful hunt have been reduced.  The vocalizations may also serve as communication between individuals.  In either case, there is a correlation between intensive barking an reduced visibility.  Both sexes defend small, solitary territories, chasing away most conspecifics who are viewed as resource competitors.  These territories are marked with preorbital gland secretions.   Although the antlers of males may be used in battle, the sharp canines are the more dangerous weapon.

Family group: Solitary or in small groups.
Diet: Grasses, sprouts, fruits, seeds, carrion, eggs.
Main Predators: Leopard, tiger, dhole, jackal, crocodile, python.


Deciduous forests in southern China and Taiwan.

Range Map (Redrawn from Whitehead, 1993)

Conservation Status

Reeves's muntjac is a common species.


An adaptable animal, this small deer has escaped from British gameparks and now lives ferally in the southern portion of Great Britain.

Muntiacus (New Latin) from muntjak, the native name for these deer in the Sunda language, in western Java.  Named after John Reeves, FRS (1774-1856), a British naturalist who was resident in China from 1812 to 1831.  He studied the natural history of the country, and sent specimens back to England.

Literature Cited

Kurt, F.  1990.  Muntjac deer.  In Grzimek's Encyclopedia of Mammals. Edited by S. P. Parker. New York: McGraw-Hill. pp. 137-139.

Nowak, R. M. [editor]. 1991.  Walker's Mammals of the World (Fifth Edition).  Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Whitehead, K. G.  1993.  The Whitehead Encyclopedia of Deer.  Stillwater, MN: Voyageur Press, Inc.

Wilson, D. E., and D. M. Reeder [editors]. 1993. Mammal Species of the World (Second Edition). Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press.  Available online at

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© Brent Huffman,
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