25 February 2010


Muntjac are a small species of deer which, when fully grown, may reach a height of approximately fifty centimetres. Indeed, at first glance a muntjac is easily mistaken for an extremely large hare, though a quick second glance is usually enough to restore a feeling of sanity. (Being stubborn, I steadfastly refused to believe in tiny deer for some time, until a fateful night in the pub where my over-confident tales of giant Norfolk bunny rabbits cost me an entire round of drinks.)

Muntjac are equipped with good eyesight; their large eyes allow them to see well in low light conditions. They have good hearing, too, with prominent, almost translucent, ears. They have distinctive facial markings - a prominent v-shape which begins below the eyes is a clear identification feature on the buck; similarly there is a dark kite shape on the doe's forehead.

Furthermore, large glands are visible beneath the eye. These secrete a thick, waxy substance which is used to scent mark territory. Cloven hooves, a dark-brown or grey winter coat (chestnut red in summer) and a long tail with a white, alarm-raising underside complete the muntjac's appearance.

Muntjac were introduced to England during the nineteenth century, but are more commonly found in their native environment: They are indigenous to South-East Asia and are common in India, South-East China and Taiwan. Many Indonesian islands also feature breeding colonies of muntjac. It is a testament to the Muntjac's versatility that it will happily occupy any area which has plenty of thick cover and enough food to sustain it. Muntjac are now a well established feral species of deer in England, and are common around the Thetford Forest region of Norfolk.

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