Axis Deer

Found in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka, these deer are characterized by their slender body shape. At certain times of the year they have white spots on their fawn-coloured fur. Also known as the chital, Axis deer is most likely to be seen in open countryside, sometimes close to agricultural land.

ANIMAL FACTS

They live mostly in open habitats, presumably so that they can see approaching predators. Axis deer live in herds of up to 30 individuals, although they may sometimes be seen in groups of up to 100. Herds consist of females and their fawns, generally led by a single stag. In tropical areas, breeding can occur at any time of the year, with stags fighting to establish and maintain their harems. They will try to intimidate rivals by bellowing loudly when challenged. Herds are vulnerable to attacks by predators such as tigers and leopards. Indeed, axis deer are the favourite prey of tigers in many parts of India.

VITAL STATISTICS

Habitat: Present throughout the Indian subcontinent, and on the island of Sri Lanka. Has been introduced to other areas, including parts of Europe, Australia and the USA.

Weight: 75 – 100 kg (165 – 220 lb); males are heavier.

Length: 130 – 170 cm (51 – 67 in), including tail; up to 95 cm (37 in) tall.

Maturity: 1 year.

Gestation Period: About 220 days; weaning occurs about 6 months later.

Breeding: 1.

Diet: Herbivorous, grazing largely on grass, but also browses on taller plants.

Lifespan: Up to 13 years in the wild; can be 20 in captivity.

Antlers

These have three points or "tines", and are only present in males (stags).

Tail

This is relatively long, and when held upright, displays its white underside.

Physique

Males are more powerfully built than females, with thicker necks and bigger chests to help them fight with their antlers.

Colouration

The upperparts are reddish-brown, broken by rows of white spots.

A FREE MEAL

A herd gathers under a tree to seek fruit shaken from above by a group of monkeys. Axis deer prefer to feed on the ground.

Gallery of Axis Deer