The Muntjac

Published on 7 December 2019 at 18:39

The muntjac

The muntjac is also known as the barking deer or Mastreani deer. The deer has the name for a reason. It makes barking sounds. The Mastreani deer is a small species of deer that originates in the south and southeast of Asia. This species is said to have originated 15-35 million years ago. It is also found in Germany, France and Poland. It is listed as Least Concern by IUCN.


The present name of the deer is a borrowing of the Latin form of the Dutch Muntjak. The latin form of the name first appeared as ''Cervus muntjac'' in 1780.



The muntjac looks pretty unusual, especially the Chinese muntjac. It has a pointed head on which two horns can be seen. Sometimes there are black stripes over the head that can make the animal look angry or surprised, just like in the picture below. This looks quite comical. The height differs per species, but in general they are not very high and have shorter legs than most herds.



Today the deer are also found in India, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, the Indonesian islands, Taiwan and Myanmar. In the lower parts of the Himalayas and in some parts of Japan there are also a few living deer.

Nowadays there are even spotted in Britain and Ireland, here they are called the Reeve's muntjac. This is because in 1925 a few of the deer escaped from the Woburn Abbey estate, which at the time had a deer park near a large country house. Since then the Muntjac has expanded considerably in Britain. It could even be that this deer will be one of the most present in Britain.


The deer have also settled in a few tropical regions. Here they can mate in any season of the year. As a result, the animal reproduces fairly quickly. The males have short antlers that can grow again when they fall off or are broken. But this doesn't happen very often as they usually use their tusks to fight.


Picture by JJ Harrison ( - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,


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Charles Smith-Jones
a year ago

I am trying to find the origins of the name 'Mastreani deer' as applied to muntjac. It only seems to have come into use fairly recently. I see that you use this name on your website, and wonder if you are able to share the source?

Many thanks in anticipation.

Charles Smith-Jones