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An Ultimate Ungulate Fact Sheet
Rusa alfredi
Visayan spotted deer
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Common name:
Scientific name:
Other names:
Visayan spotted deer
Rusa alfredi
Philippine spotted deer, Visayan deer, Prince Alfred's sambar, Sambar de Prince Alfred, Prinz-Alfred Hirsch, Lasao, Usa, Dulom, Manginum, Libay, Pero

Physical Characteristics

Head and body length: 128 cm
Shoulder height: 64-77 cm
Tail length: 9-12 cm

A small, short-legged deer with a crouched build, the Visayan spotted deer is easily recognized by its namesake spots. The overall coat color is a very dark brown (sometimes with reddish highlights), but the sides are covered with a smattering of white or buff spots. These spots are largest over the hips and grow smaller and fainter towards the shoulders (at which point the coat becomes solid brown in color). The undersides and inside surfaces of the legs are white, as is the underside of the short tail. The head of the Visayan spotted deer is rather pointed. The head is usually paler than the body, although the forehead and muzzle are usually dark. Males grow short antlers (around 25 cm long) with three tines on each.

Similar species
  • Visayan spotted deer are easily distinguished from other Philippine deer (Axis calamianensis and Rusa marianna) by the presence of spots in the adult coat.
  • Fallow deer (Dama dama) and axis deer (Axis axis) both have spots as adults, but the rest of the coat is much paler in color than Visayan spotted deer.

Reproduction and Development

Gestation period: 8 months.
Litter size: 1.
Life span: Up to 20 years (in captivity).

Much is unknown about the life cycle of the Visayan spotted deer in the wild. Births in the wild have been recorded in March, May, and June, but young animals may be seen in all seasons. In captivity, babies may be born year-round. Like the adults, fawns are spotted. Males begin to grow antlers after their first birthday.

Ecology and Behavior

Visayan spotted deer are usually active at night, when they emerge from the forest to feed in clearings. They are very shy and retreat to dense forest when disturbed. Males will "roar" to challenge rival males (and possibly attract females); this sounds rather like the bark of a dog when heard from far away.

Family group: Small groups of up to three deer (although the small herd size may be due to human interference). Males may be solitary.
Diet: Young grasses, low-growing leaves and buds.
Main Predators: (None surviving, besides humans).

Habitat and Distribution

Visayan spotted deer are now found mainly in densely-forested areas on rugged slopes (where they are relatively safe from humans), but in the past they were also found in open grasslands. This species is now restricted to less than 5% of its original range, and is found on only two islands (Negros and Panay) of the Western Visayan chain in the Philippines. The approximate range is depicted in the map below.

Range Map
(After IUCN, 2009; Localities redrawn from Oliver et al., 1991)

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List: Endangered (2008).
CITES Listing: Not listed (2009).
Threats: Habitat loss (due to agriculture and logging) and resulting fragmentation of populations, hunting.

The estimated total population less than 2,500 animals.

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