HIMALAYAN MUSK DEER
Moschus chrysogaster …
The Himalayan musk deer was described by Hodgson in 1839. ¬†The specific name sifanicus is sometimes used in place of chrysogaster. ¬†The most primitive of the cervids, musk deer have sometimes been placed in their own family, as their morphology is half-way between chevrotains and the true deer. ¬†The musk produced by this genus of primitive deer is highly held for its cosmetic and alleged pharmaceutical properties, and can fetch U.S. $45,000 per kilogram (2.2 pounds) on the international market. ¬†Although this musk, produced in a gland of the males, can be extracted from live animals, most “musk-gatherers” kill the animals to remove the entire sac, which yields only about 25 grams (1/40 of a kilogram) of the brown waxy substance.
Moskhos (Greek) musk, also moschus (New Latin) musk. ¬†Khrusos (Greek) gold; gaster (Greek) the belly. …
- Body Length: 86-100 cm / 2.8-3.3 ft.
- Shoulder Height: 51-53 cm / 20-21 inches.
- Tail Length: 4-6 cm / 1.6-2.4 inches
- Weight: 11-18 kg / 24-40 lb.
- The general colour of the coat, composed of brittle hairs,¬†is a slightly grizzled brown. ¬†As the name suggests, on the chest is a wide vertical whitish-yellow stripe which extends up the throat to the chin. ¬†The ears are tipped with yellow hairs. ¬†The body slopes forward, as the hind legs are almost one third longer than the forelegs, causing the height at the rump to be almost 10 cm / 4 inches above the shoulder. ¬†The ears are large and rounded, generally lined with whitish fur. ¬†Both sexes have well-developed upper canines, and in males these may reach a length of 7 cm / 3 inches and protrude from the mouth in a fang-like manner. ¬†The canines are constantly growing, but, due to their mobility and fragility, they are easily broken. ¬†There are no antlers as in other deer species.
- Gestation Period: 6.5 months.
- Young per Birth: 1, sometimes 2.
- Breeding occurs primarily in November-December, with the resulting being born from May to June. ¬†After birth, the young deer lie hidden in secluded areas, essentially independent of their mothers except at feeding times. ¬†This hiding period may last up to 2 months.
- Life Cycle
- Weaning: 3-4 months.
- Sexual Maturity: 18-24 months.
- Life span: 12-20 years.
- Himalayan musk deer are most active between dusk and dawn, alternately resting and feeding throughout this period. ¬†At night, musk deer can be seen in the open areas of their habitat as they graze, while during the day, they remain in dense cover. ¬†Neighbouring individuals may utilize common latrines, an activity with becomes more frequent during the mating season. ¬†Himalayan musk deer are sedentary, remaining wthin a defined home range throughout the year. ¬†In females these are about 125 acres in size, while¬†male musk deer will control a territory which encompasses the ranges of several females, defending it against intrusion by rival males. ¬†The Himalayan musk deer does not undertake any seasonal migrations, remaining in the same area year-round despite harsh weather conditions. ¬†A shy animal, the musk deer depends on its sense of hearing to locate sources of danger. ¬†When frightened, they make broad leaps, each measuring up to 6 meters / 19 feet in length. ¬†Drastic changes in direction are made during flight, and every few jumps the animal will stop and listen. ¬†Communication between individuals is thought to be based primarily on their sense of smell, due to the high development of the glands of musk deer. ¬†Primarily silent, musk deer will emit a loud double hiss if alarmed, and may scream plaintively if wounded. ¬†Population densities are about 3-4 animals per square kilometer.
- Family group: Solitary.
- Diet: Leaves, grasses, moss, lichens, shoots, twigs.
- Main Predators: Yellow-throated marten, fox, wolf, lynx.
- As a species, the Himalayan musk deer is classified as low risk, near threatened by the IUCN (1996). ¬†M. c. chrysogaster and M. c. leucogaster are both classified as low risk, near threatened subspecies.
- Alpine forest and scrub at elevations of 2,200-4,300 meters / 7250-14,200 feet on the eastern and southern edge of Tibet and the southern slopes of the Himalayas.
*Biology and Management of the Cervidae. ¬†Pages 33, 307-319.
*Grzimek’s Encyclopedia of Mammals. ¬†Volume 5. ¬†Pages 133-136.
*Walker’s Mammals of the World (Fifth Edition). ¬†Volume 2.¬†¬†Pages .
*The Whitehead Encyclopedia of Deer. ¬†Page 217, 270. …