Scientific Name: Elaphodus cephalophus cephalophus
Both male and female tufted deer can jump like cats and make barking sounds like dogs.
Tufted deer are divided into three subspecies: Hubei, eastern, and western. We exhibit western tufted deer here at the Zoo, the largest of the three subspecies.
STATUS: Currently considered near threatened, because they are hunted by leopards and people.
HABITAT: Throughout southeast Asia, including Burma and southwestern China. They live in jungles at relatively high elevation, from 1,000 to 15,000 feet.
DIET: Tufted deer are herbivorous and will both graze (eat grass) and browse (eat leaves and shoots). They also like twigs and some types of fruit.
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Adult western tufted deer are from 43 – 64 inches long and stand 25 – 28 inches high. They can weigh anywhere from 37 – 110 pounds. Their body is chocolate brown with a white belly and gray and white head and neck. They have a stomach with four chambers and chew their cud like cows. Baby tufted deer have a row of white spots on each half of their back that turn brown and disappear when they’re about two years old. They begin living on their own at six months and can live to be fifteen years old.
Sparring for Territory
Tufted deer only come together to mate and will otherwise fiercely defend their home territories. Males and females are roughly the same size, but males have small, unbranched antlers. These are not useful when fighting, and in fact are often obscured by a tuft of hair. They use their antlers to push their enemy until he falls off-balance, and will then use their short tusk-like upper canines to fight. Their main predators are leopards and humans, and when tufted deer run for safety, their tails flap to alternate between brown and a white target, and this confuses the hunter to help the deer escape.