The tufted deer (Elaphodus cephalophus) is one of the smallest deer species. It has a unique appearance due to the black tufted hairs which are visible on the deer’s forehead. They are the close relatives of muntjac deer.
While males have antlers females lack one. The male’s antlers are not quite visible because they are hidden in the tuft of hair.
There are 4 subspecies of tufted deer.
Unlike muntjac, the tufted deer has longer neck. They have greyish coat which goes almost entirely black in winter.
The average body length of tufted deer is about 17 cm.
Males have fang-like canines which measure 2.6 cm in length. The shoulder height is about 50 – 70 cm. Adults weigh as much as 17 – 30 kg.
Tufted deer are regular browsers. Their diet consists of bamboo, herbs, leaves, grasses, twigs, and fruits.
Tufted deer are usually found in the northeastern Myanmar and central China. An isolated population is also found in eastern Tibet.
Tufted deer make habitats at a height of 4,500 meters above sea level. They live in forested mountains. They likely make habitats in deciduous forests and evergreen forests provided the habitats are abundant in fresh water.
They have fairly short tail measuring only 10 cm in length.
Tufted deer are solitary animals but they do live in small groups. They are mostly most active during dawn and dusk.
The breeding season of tufted deer occurs in September and December. Young deer reach maturity at 1 – 2 years age.
Tufted deer can live as long as 10 – 12 years in the wild. The lifespan in captivity is 15 years.
Predators of tufted deer are dholes and leopards.
The previous estimate of tufted deer population was at 300,000 – 500,000 in 1998 but the population continued to decline since then. The primary reason is the habitat loss.