We have Muntjac deer, also known as barking deer, on Wilden Marsh Nature Reserve and in the surrounding countryside. I don’t know how many of these little deer are roaming in the Lower Stour Valley, but at nighttime I have seen up to eighteen individuals grazing the north marsh in the beam of my headtorch. I’ve read that muntjac deer don’t graze in herds: they graze individually or in family groups. Reeves muntjac were imported to Woburn Park in Bedfordshire in the early 20th century, from China. They are now widespread and increasing in number and range. Release by humans and escapees have led to the rapid spread of these deer across south and central England and into Wales; their distribution north of the Humber is patchy, but they have reached Scottish border.
Bucks mark their territories by rubbing scent glands in their forehead on trees and branches. Their territories overlap those of multiple does, and mating occurs throughout the year. They reach a shoulder height of around 42 – 45cm and weigh 12-17kg. Females weigh 10-16kg.
Muntjac can live in the wild for up to 13 years; they feed on shrub shoots, woodland herbs, bramble and raspberries. Females normally have one kid (rarely twins), after a gestation of 210 days. Kids are born throughout the year, and the doe has an immediate oestrus. She can be almost continuously pregnant, and produces around 3 kids every 2 years. The young bucks start to develop antlers at around 25 weeks, whatever the month, and shed the velvet at 46-76 weeks. The first antlers are shed in late May (when the young buck is between 52-112 weeks old) but then regularly each year at that time.