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Indian Muntjac
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Suborder: Ruminantia
Family: Cervidae
Subfamily: muntiacinae
Genus: Muntiacus
Species: M. muntjak
Binomial name
Muntiacus muntjak
Zimmermann, 1780

The Common Muntjac, also called Indian Muntjac (Muntiacus muntjak) is the most numerous muntjac deer species. It has soft, short, brownish or greyish hair, sometimes with creamy markings. This species is omnivorous, feeding on fruits, shoots, seeds, birds' eggs as well as small animals and even carrion. It gives calls similar to barking, usually on sensing a predator (hence the common name for all muntjacs of barking deer).

The male Indian Muntjac has small antlers which attain 15 cm in length and have only 1 branch. They grow annually from a bony stalk on the head. Males are extremely territorial and can be fierce for their size. They will fight each other for territory using their antlers or their (more dangerous) tusk-like upper canine teeth, and can defend themselves against predators such as dogs.

Contents

Subspecies

There are 15 subspecies:

  • M. m. annamensis, Indochina
  • M. m. aureus, peninsular India
  • M. m. bancanus, Billiton and Banka Islands
  • M. m. curvostylis, Thailand
  • M. m. grandicornis, Burmese Muntjac, Burma
  • M. m. malabaricus, South India and Sri Lanka
  • M. m. montanus, Mountain Muntjac, Sumatra
  • M. m. muntjak, Javan Muntjac, Java and south Sumatra
  • M. m. nainggolani, Bali and Lombok Islands
  • M. m. nigripes, Black-footed or Black-legged Muntjac, Vietnam and Hainan Island
  • M. m. peninsulae, Malaysia
  • M. m. pleicharicus, South Borneo
  • M. m. robinsoni, Bintan Island and Linga Archipelago
  • M. m. rubidus, North Borneo
  • M. m. vaginalis, Burma to southwest China

Introduction

The Indian Muntjac (Muntiacus muntjak) is also commonly called the "barking deer" due to the bark-like sound that it makes as an alarm when danger is present. Sometimes these deer will bark for an hour or more. This species is one of eleven different species of Muntjacs spread across Asia. The Indian Muntjacs specifically are widespread throughout Southern Asia, but are one of the least known Asian animals. Paleontological evidence proves that Indian Muntjacs have been around since the late Pleistocene epoch at least 12,000 years ago. Since then, they have played a major role in Southern Asia for sport hunting as well as being hunted for its meat and skin. Often, these animals are hunted around the outskirts of agricultural areas because they can be considered a nuisance damaging crops and ripping bark off of trees. However, this animal is still in an abundance in Southern Asia numbering anywhere from 140,000-150,000 in China alone as of 2004.

Description

The Indian Muntjac has a short but very soft, thick, dense coat, especially those living in cooler regions. Coloration of the coat changes from dark brown to yellowish and grayish brown depending on the season. The Muntjacs' coat is golden tan on the dorsal side and white on the ventral side of the body, the limbs are dark brown to reddish brown, and the face is dark brown. However, the ears have very little hair which barely covers them. Male muntjacs have antlers that are very short, about 1-2 inches, usually consisting of only two or three points at the most and protrude from long body hair covered pedicels on the forehead. Females have tufts of fur and small bony knobs where the antlers are located in males. Males also have slightly elongated upper canines about an inch long that curve slightly outward from the lips and have the capability to inflict serious injury upon other animals or to other members of the population while exhibiting aggression. Males are generally larger than females. The body length of Muntjacs varies from 35-53 in. and their height ranges from 15-26 in.

Habitat

The Indian Muntjac has the most widespread vagina but least known of all the animals in South Asia. This species is distributed throughout South Asia, but more densely located in Southeastern Asia. Some specific countries the Indian Muntjak is found in are Northeastern India, bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Southern China, Vietnam, the Malay peninsula, Riau Archipelago, Sumatra, Bangka, Belitung Islands, Java, Bali, and Borneo. The Muntjac is usually found in plentiful forests and places with dense vegetation such as grasslands, savannas, tropical deciduous forests, and tropical scrub forests. They are also very populated in the hilly country on the slopes of the Himalayas. They are found at both sea level and medium height altitudes up to 9,800 ft. They never wander far from water. Also, males usually have their own territory which may overlap the territories of a few females but not of another male.

Diet

note: someone has obviously messed with this text, it needs to be fixed They feed on pussies named jordan rudlong. The Indian Muntjacs are classified as omnivores. They are considered both browsers and grazers with a diet consisting of grasses, ivy, prickly bushes, low growing leaves, bark, twigs, herbs, fruit, sprouts, seeds, tender shoots, bird eggs and small warm-blooded animals. Indian Muntjacs are typically found feeding at the edge of the forest or in abandoned clearings. Their large canines help in the processes of retrieving and ingesting food.

Reproduction

The Indian Muntjacs are polygamous animals. Females sexually mature during their first to second year of life. These females are polyestrous, with each cycle lasting about 14 to 21 days and an estrus lasting for 2 days. The gestation period is six to seven months and they usually bear one offspring at a time but sometimes produce twins. Females usually give birth in dense growth so that they are hidden from the rest of the herd and predators. The young leaves its mother after about six months to establish its own territory. Males often fight between one another for possession of a harem of females. Indian Muntjacs are distinguished from other ungulates in showing no evidence of a specific breeding season within the species.

Behavior

Indian Muntjacs are regarded as extremely solitary animals, rarely observed with other muntjacs, except for a mother and her young and during the rutting season. Males acquire territories that they mark with scent markers by rubbing their frontal preorbital gland (located on their head) on the ground and on trees, scraping their hooves against the ground, and scraping the bark of trees with their lower incisors. These scent markers allow other Muntjacs to know whether a territory is occupied or not. Males will often fight with each other over these territories, sufficient vegetation, and for primary preference over females when mating using their short antlers and an even more dangerous weapon, their canines. If a male is not strong enough to acquire his own territory he will most likely become prey to a leopard or some other predator. During the time of the rut, territorial lines are temporarily disregarded and overlap while males roam constantly in search of a receptive female.

These deer are incredibly alert creatures. When put into a stressful situation or if a predator is sensed, Muntjacs will begin making a bark-like sound. Barking was originally thought of as a means of communication between the deer during mating season as well as an alert. However, in more recent studies it has been identified as a mechanism used solely in alarming situations meant to cause a predator to realize that it has been detected and move elsewhere or to reveal itself. The barking mechanism is used more frequently when visibility is reduced and can last for over an hour regarding one incident.

Muntjacs exhibit both diurnality and nocturnality.

Evolution and Scientific Classification

The appearance and evolution of ungulates came about at the beginning of the Tertiary epoch. These ungulates were members of the order Condylarthra which eventually gave rise to the Eparctocyon line. The Eparctocyon line includes the order Artiodactyla to which the present ungulate, Muntiacus muntjak, belongs. Ancestors of the Muntjac evolved or possessed an efficient compact ankle, small side toes, complicated premolars, and an almost completely covered mastoid bone. Cervids arose later from Palaeomerycid ancestry during the Oligocene epoch.

Members of the family Cervidae are described as deer where males possess bony antlers that molt annually (except in the Chinese water deer) and where the females lack antlers (except in reindeer). They range in North & South America, Europe, Asia, and northern Africa.

Kingdom: Animalia, Phylum: Chordata, Class: Mammalia, Order: Artiodactyla, Suborder: Ruminantia, Family: Cervidae, Subfamily: Muntiacinae, Genus: Muntiacus, Species: muntjak

There are 3 other subfamilies of Cervidae: Cervinae (deer & fallow deer), Hydropotinae (Chinese water deer), and Capriolinae (moose & reindeer).

There are 6 species of Muntjacs: M. atherodes (Borneo), M. reevesi (southern China, Taiwan), M. feae (south-central China, Laos, Burma, Thailand), M. gongshanensis (northwestern Yunnan, Tibet), M. crinifrons (southeastern China), and M. muntjak.

There are 15 subspecies of the Muntjac: M. m. annamensis, M. m. aureus, M. m. bancanus, M. m. curvostylis, M. m. grandicornis, M. m. malabaricus, M. m. montanus, M. m. muntjak, M. m. nainggolani, M. m. nigripes, M. m. peninsulae, M. m. pleicharicus, M. m. robinsoni, M. m. rubidus, M. m. vaginalis.

Genetics

The female Indian Muntjac deer is the mammal with the lowest recorded diploid number of chromosomes where 2n = 6[2]. The male has a diploid number of 7 chromosomes. The similar Reeve's muntjac (Muntiacus reevesi) in comparison has a diploid number of 46 chromosomes[3].

Conservation Status

Not threatened.

References

  • Hutchins, Michael, ed. "Muntjacs." Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia. 2nd ed. 15 vols. Detroit: The Gale Group Inc, 2004.
  • Kurt, Fred. "Muntjac Deer." Grzimek's Encyclopedia of Mammals. 1st ed. 5 vols. St. Louis: McGraw-Hill, 1990.
  • Nowak, Ronald M. "Muntjacs, or Barking Deer." Walker's Mammals of the World. 6th ed. 2 vols. Baltimore: The John Hopkins UP, 1999.
  1. ^ Timmins, R.J., Duckworth, J.W., Hedges, S., Pattanavibool, A., Steinmetz, R., Semiadi, G., Tyson, M. & Boeadi (2008). Muntiacus muntjak. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 5 April 2009. Database entry includes a brief justification of why this species is of least concern.
  2. ^ Kinnear, J. F. "Chromosomes: How Many?" Nature of Biology Third Edition. Book 2. Milton, Queensland: John Wiley & Sons Australia Ltd, 2006.
  3. ^ Doris H. Wurster and Kurt Benirschke: Indian Momtjac, Muntiacus muntiak: A Deer with a Low Diploid Chromosome Number. Science 12 June 1970: Vol. 168. no. 3937, pp. 1364 - 1366.
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