In brief. . .
Where do they come from? The Chinese Water Deer (Hydropotes inermis inermis) is a sub-species of Water Deer, indigenous to regions of China and Korea. It is not a native British species, but an expanding wild population is present in southern and eastern England.
Tusks: Chinese Water Deer bucks have no antlers. Instead, they have long canine teeth that protrude like tusks from the upper jaw. These range in length from 5.5 cm to 8 cm. The females (does) have much smaller canines.
What else should I know? Often confused with Muntjac, Chinese Water Deer are concentrated in Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Norfolk.
Background information . . .
The Chinese Water Deer (Hydropotes inermis inermis) is a sub-species of Water Deer, native to China and Korea.
It was first introduced into Britain in the 1870s, and within 50 years collections of Chinese Water Deer had been established at Woburn Abbey and Whipsnade.
At present, the main area of distribution is in the counties of Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Norfolk. Although the population in China is now considered to be ‘vulnerable’, the population in England is growing and increasing its range, swelled by numbers of deliberate releases and escapees, and is thought to represent 10% of the world population. The UK Government is considering management programmes to prevent the further spread of Chinese Water Deer as a non-native species.
In size, the Chinese Water Deer is somewhere between Muntjac and Roe Deer. An adult Chinese Water Deer can weigh between 11 kg and 18 kg, and stands between 50 cm and 55 cm at the shoulder. There is little variation between male and female.
In summer, a Chinese Water Deer’s coat is reddish brown with white undersides; the coat fades to pale greyish-brown in winter. Their rounded, large ears are distinctive, giving them a teddy-bear-like appearance.
Their diet consists of leaves, grasses and sedges. Lifespan on average is about 6 years.
The ‘tusks’ of a Chinese Water Deer . . .
The ‘tusks’ or prominent canines of a male Chinese Water Deer appear in its first year, at about six or seven months of age. When the buck is between 18 months to two years old, the tusks are fully grown.
The tusks range in length from 5.5 cm to 8 cm. Razor-sharp, they are held loosely in their sockets, and can be drawn in or thrust out at will. The does (females) have much smaller canines.