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Animal Info - Siberian Musk Deer

(Other Names: 原麝, ジャコウジカ属全種, Almiscareiros, Cerf Porte-musc, Chevrotain Porte-musc, Ciervo Almizclero, Porte-musc)

Moschus moschiferus (M. sibiricus, includes M. anhueiensis)

Status: Vulnerable


Contents

1. Profile (Picture)
2. Tidbits
3. Status and Trends (IUCN Status, Countries Where Currently Found, Population Estimates, History of Distribution, Threats and Reasons for Decline)
4. Data on Biology and Ecology (Weight, Habitat, Age to Maturity, Gestation Period, Birth Season, Birth Rate, Maximum Age, Diet, Behavior, Social Organization)
5. References


Profile

Pictures: Siberian Musk Deer #1 (25 Kb JPEG) (borealforest.org); Siberian Musk Deer #2 (Huffman 2004) 

The Siberian musk deer weighs 7 - 17 kg (15 - 38 lb). The male has canine teeth which grow to a length of 8 cm (3") and project well below the lips. It is generally nocturnal. It eats a variety of vegetation, such as leaves, flowers, young shoots and grasses. It also eats twigs, mosses and lichens, especially in winter. Except for a female and her young, the musk deer is solitary outside of the rutting season. Musk deer are strongly territorial. Within its home range, it regularly uses well-established trails connecting areas used for feeding, hiding and other activities. Males scent mark their territories by rubbing their tail gland against trees and stones.

The Siberian musk deer is found in Siberia, Mongolia, northeast China, North Korea, South Korea and Sakhalin Island. Its population is believed to have declined by 50% in the early 1990's due to the great demand for natural musk, mainly in China, Japan and Korea (Oryx 1994d).

Overhunting of males for musk is a major factor in the Siberian musk deer's decline. In addition, females and males too young to produce musk (less than 3 years old) are captured in traps set for males. Loss of its forest habitat is also a factor.


Tidbits

*** The substance obtained from the male's musk gland, which is about the size of a clenched fist and located between the genitals and the umbilicus in the abdomen, is used in the manufacture of perfume and soap and, in the Far East, for a variety of medicinal purposes.

*** Musk brings a high price. In Nepal in 1972, it was more valuable than the same weight of gold.

*** Despite its economic importance and wide distribution, as late as the middle 1980's little had been learned about the biology of the musk deer.


Status and Trends

IUCN Status:

Countries Where the Siberian Musk Deer Is Currently Found:

2004: Occurs in China, Mongolia, North Korea, Russia and South Korea (IUCN 2004).

Population Estimates:

[Note: Figures given are for wild populations only.]

History of Distribution:

As of 1987, the Siberian musk deer was found in Siberia, Mongolia, northeast China, North Korea, South Korea and Sakhalin Island. Its population is believed to have declined by 50% in the early 1990's due to the great demand for natural musk, mainly in China, Japan and Korea (Oryx 1994d). The current population is unknown but declining rapidly (WCMC/WWF 1997).

Threats and Reasons for Decline:

Overhunting of males for musk is a major factor in its decline. In addition, females and males too young to produce musk (less than 3 years old) are captured in traps set for males. Loss of its forest habitat is also a factor.


Data on Biology and Ecology

Weight:

The Siberian musk deer weighs 7 - 17 kg (15 - 38 lb).

Habitat:

The Siberian musk deer prefers forest and brushland at altitudes of 2600 - 3600 m (8500 - 11,800').

Age to Maturity:

1 year.

Gestation Period:

160 days.

Birth Season:

Mating usually takes place in January.

Birth Rate:

The female usually bears 1 young at a time, occasionally 2.

Maximum Age:

At least 20 years (captivity).

Diet:

It eats a variety of vegetation, such as leaves, flowers, young shoots and grasses. It also eats twigs, mosses and lichens, especially in winter.

Behavior:

The Siberian musk deer is generally nocturnal. Within its home range it regularly uses well-established trails connecting areas used for feeding, hiding and other activities. Occasional migrations of from 12 - 35 km (7 - 22 mi) have been reported in Siberia.

Social Organization:

Except for a female and her young, the musk deer is solitary outside of the rutting season. Musk deer are strongly territorial. Males scent mark their territories by rubbing their tail gland against trees and stones.


References

borealforest.org, Burton & Pearson 1987, Huffman 2004, IUCN 1994, IUCN 1996, IUCN 2000, IUCN 2003a, IUCN 2004, Macdonald 1984, Nowak & Paradiso 1983, Oryx 1994d, WCMC/WWF 1997


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Last modified: January 11, 2005;

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