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My muntjac deer skull


There are six types of deer in the UK: roe deer, red deer, fallow, sika, Chinese water deer and muntjac. There are lots of deer around my village, but they are all red and roe deer, so it is hard for me to find a skull of the other types. I was lucky that I got my fallow buck skull from the gamekeeper in my village, but I didn't know how to get sika, Chinese water deer or muntjac.

Then in April I got a message through my Facebook fan page from Miss Bowen Hill who lives in Essex in England. She said her dog had found a muntjac skull and was I interested ? I said yes, definitely and she kindly sent it to me !

Here's what a muntjac looks like. They are a type of deer which were brought over to the UK (the only types that have always lived in the UK are red and roe). They come from south east Asia and there are six subspecies. The type in the UK is Reeves' muntjac (Muntiacus reevesi) which come from China. It is a very very small deer and in the UK only Chinese water deer are smaller. They are rarely seen and usually live alone rather than in herds.

My skull is a male. Males are called bucks, and females are called does, the same as roe deer. Male muntjac have short antlers on very long pedicles (the bone between the antler and skull). The pedicles are different to other deer because they grow out the top of the eye socket and go straight back. This is unlike other deer, which have to have antlers going upwards since they fight other males with them.

The antlers on mine are different sizes with the longest being about 5cm long.

Muntjac usually have a small tine (branch) at the bottom, and a thin pearled coronet like on roe deer antlers. Here is a muntjac I saw at the Scottish Deer Centre. You can see the black stripes the males have along the forehead too.

Here's a close up of the longest antler on mine:

Underneath you can see it is an adult because all six cheek teeth are through. Muntjacs normally have long canines which is unusual for deer but on this one they have fallen out. The canines are used for fighting other deer and animals and they can cause a lot of damage. There is a hole in the roof of the mouth but I don't know what caused it.

This is the broken end of the nose where the canines would normally be.

Some types of deer have a hollow in front of the eye (red deer do, roe deer don't) but on this muntjac it is massive. This is where scent glands go and the proper name for the hole is the sub-orbital pit. Scent glands are used by deer to mark territory. Cats do the same.

This is a fantastic skull that I wouldn't have found by myself and Miss Bowen Hill was really kind to send it to me !

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Kat said...

Oh cool! I've never seen a deer with antlers like that. What a great addition to your collection.

Psydrache said...

A muntjac skull is on my wish list, too ;)
You know some nice people and your muntjac looks pretty cool with these different antlers.

Jake said...

Yup, it's a pretty cool skull !

Ric Morris said...

Hi Jake - Muntjac skulls are really tremendous and I have a couple of really tatty ones which were also given to me as I don't think they are very common in my home area. Some good specimens with canine tusks and lower jaws turn up on eBay from time to time as I expect you've seen, and they usually fetch between £35 and £60!

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