Indian Musk deer is one of the highly poached and
endangered animals. Read on to know about the Musk deer of India.
deer comprise of one of the most endangered deer species, not only in
the Indian subcontinent, but also in the whole world. They are
classified as a subfamily of the Cervidae and have four sub-species,
Musk deer of India resemble medium-high dogs in size. They weigh just
about 9 to 11 kg and are very different from the other types of Indian
deer. The hind legs are quite muscular as well as long and the forelimbs
are short, weak and thin. The small and arched back make the musk deer
higher at the sacrum than at the shoulders. This also helps them in
taking well-coordinated jumps from their hind legs. The musk deer, both
make as well as female, do not have antlers.
The canines of the males stick out downward from the mouth and are
larger than those of the females. The coat of newborn musk deer is dark
brown in color and is covered with short, soft hair. They also have
yellowish or white spots on their coat. As the second winter of a young
one approaches, it gets covered with a winter coat, with coarse hair and
less defined or absent spots. Male musk deer have a musk pouch, which is
situated between their sex organs and navel. Whenever they want to
attract a mate, they release a scent from this pouch.
Indian musk deer tend to be very secretive. They can be found either
living alone or in groups, consisting of not more than three members.
Each group generally comprises of a mother and her young ones. One can
see them in the early morning, late evening or at night. During
snowfall, they become lethargic, climb trees and eat tree shrubs and
moss to survive.
The most preferred habitat of the musk deer in India comprises of
pockets with rock outcrops, which serve as a shelter from their
predators. As winter season approaches, musk deer move to steep slopes,
full of coniferous trees. In summers, they like to stay in valleys with
forest rivers or around streams or near fields with good grassy
vegetation. Marshy forests do not count amongst the favorite habitat of
the musk deer. Their geographical range covers forested, mountainous
parts of Asia and parts of Eastern Russia.
Musk deer are herbivores and are known to consume over 130 species of
plants. They also consume a few mosses and lichens. In winter season,
Musk deer eat mainly arboreal lichens and some terrestrial bushy
lichens. Other consumption items include young shoots, coniferous
needles, leaves, buds, bark of mountain ash, aspens, maple, willow, bird
cherry, and honeysuckle. In summers, herbaceous plants, including
buckwheat, geranium, some grasses, and spirea, form a major portion of
The mating season of Musk deer of India is in December and lasts for a
period of 3 to 4 weeks. The gestation period is somewhere between 185
and 195 days. The number of offspring is mostly one and seldom reaches
two. Secluded places are chosen for fawning and the young one stays with
the mother for upto two years (two winters).
Status and Threats
Musk deer is the most endangered of all the species of deer. One of the
main reasons for this is that they are highly poached for their musk.
The main predators of the Musk deer include lynx, wolverine, and the
Facts about Indian Musk Deer