The Chinese water deer can swim for miles on end. The musk deer can climb mutinous mountain walls with no problem. But that’s not what’s special about these deer. They are certainly not like Bambi, and I’m sure some hunters probably would not want to run into them while roaming the woods. What’s pretty amazing about these animals, is that they both have fangs. So strange it is, that even the Chinese water deer was granted its own subfamily in the world of deer. I suppose they’ve found better use of having enlarged canines-or tusks-rather than carrying around a fine pair of antlers.
Fang-like tusks are found on the males of both species. The Chinese water deer can sport chompers as long as 3.2 inches, while their “musk cousins” can reach four inches in length. Both of these species are more primitive than cervids (true deer) which might explain their saber-toothed appearances. Bucks will use the fangs as not only defense, but when they are rutting in the fall they will actually use their facial muscles to pull their tusks closer together and fight.
Musk deer reside around mountainous terrain, usually in alpine forests of the Himalayas, and water deer, true to their title, love to be near water, usually around wetlands and rivers.
While their Chinese cousins are doing quite well in their numbers, the musk deer is the rarest of all cervids. One reason for their endangered status could be due to their highly priced musk. The secretion produced by the bucks can be extracted and sold for pharmaceutical reasons. Even just 2.2 pounds is worth $45,000! Unfortunately for the animals, most people who gather musk kill the animals for the sac which produces this liquid gold, even though it’s possible to extract it and keep the buck still living.
At any rate, both the water deer and the musk deer are amazing animals.
An Ultimate Ungulate Fact Sheet (www.ultimateungulate.com)