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Burmese brow-antlered deer

Scientific name: Rucervus eldii


CLASS: Mammalia
ORDER: Artiodactyla
FAMILY: Cervidae

FEEDING TYPE: Herbivore
STATISTICS: Weight: 176-330 lbs; Height: 3-4 feet

DESCRIPTION:
This deer is a medium-sized deer. It has long, thin legs, a long body with a short tail, and a large head on a thin neck. Females are smaller and lighter than the males. The winter coat is a dark brown while the summer coat is a reddish-brown color. The coat looks to be rough and coarse, especially around the throat of the males where a thick mane of longer hair is also located. Despite its appearance, the coat is smooth and thin with hardly any undercoat.

The antlers of the stags, or males, are the most impressive feature of this deer. They are many tined and reach about three feet in length, although it has been noted that some can be as long as seven feet. Twelve tines are normal for most stags, although as many as 20 tines have been observed. The antlers tend to grow outwards and then inwards in a distinctive lyre shape. The antlers are shed from the end of June to early September. They are free of velvet by December or early January.

RANGE:
India, Myanmar, western Thailand, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Cambodia, and China

HABITAT:
Grasslands, along rivers, and occasionally deciduous forests.

ADAPTATIONS:
Daily and seasonal migrations are normal. They are influenced by the breeding times and availability of food and water.

Brow-antlered deer have numerous scent glands on their feet, legs, and faces that are used for communication. The male uses “chemosignaling” through its urine and feces to let the females know it is ready for reproduction. Sight and touch are also communication tools, often accomplished by using the antlers.

REPRODUCTION/GROWTH:
Females will compose a harem. The males compete with each other to gain control of a particular harem. The mating season is referred to as “rutt.” Rutt takes place in the early spring months between February and May. A single calf is normally born after a 220-240 day-long gestation period. As is common for deer, the female hides the young at birth. Males do not participate in parenting.


The fawn have spots at birth that fade over time. At seven months of age, the young are weaned. They become sexually mature starting at 18 months of age. Females are fertile for 12-14 years.

The males are loners except at rutting time. Females stay with fawns as well as other female-fawn pairs. The herds become larger when the males join them during the mating season. Groups of one to 20 are common. These group sizes peak in April and slowly decline towards September.

PREY/PREDATOR:
Prey to tigers, leopards, dholes or wild dogs, jackals, and man
Predator to none

WILD DIET:
Grass, fallen fruits and flowers, herbaceous plants, and shoots. Reportedly can live without water for several days.

STATUS:
Listed as Endangered by IUCN.

SPECIAL NOTES:

  • There are three recognized brow-antlered deer subspecies: the Thailand brow-antlered deer in China, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Lao, and Hainan Island; the Burmese brow-antlered deer in Myanmar and Thailand; and the Manipur brow-antlered deer in Manipur, India.
  • The species, discovered in Manipur in 1839, is also called Eld’s deer. It received this name in 1844 after Lt. Percy Eld, a British officer.
  • The species’ decline seems to have happened due to agricultural sprawl and conflicts within the region. The deer was used as food for many of the armies during Cambodia’s civil war.

 
BIBLIOGRAPHY:

  1. IUCN Red List. Timmins, R.J. & Duckworth, J.W. 2008. Rucervus eldii. In: IUCN 2008. 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.  Downloaded on April 2009.
  2. National Geographic.
  3. Grzimek’s Encyclopedia of Mammals. Vol. 5. McGraw Hill Publishing Co. 1995.
  4. Nowak, Ronald M. Walker’s Mammals of the World, 5th edition, Volume II. John Hopkins University Press. Baltimore and London.1991
     

Published: April 2009

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