SIBERIAN MUSK DEER – Moschus moschiferus


Siberian musk deer facts: The Siberian musk deer weighs 18 to 36 pounds (8 to 16 kilograms) and measures 24 to 39 inches (60 to 100 centimeters). Coat is various shades of brown, and there are fuzzy whitish yellow spots on the neck and chest, with rows of brighter spots on both sides of the body.

Geographic range: This musk deer is found in eastern Asia.

Siberian musk deer habitat: This deer needs plenty of lichens (LIE-kenz) to eat and shelter from predators. It lives in coniferous forests with dense undergrowth and ground moss. Siberian musk deer can move easily on top of snow because of their light weight. Deep, loose snow is difficult for them to navigate and can kill them.

What does siberian musk deer eat: Lichens are the primary food source, comprising 80 percent of their diet in winter. They also eat fir needles, twigs, leaves, berries, and mushrooms in winter. Musk deer have been known to migrate up to 20 miles (35 kilometers) for food. Lichens aid digestion in summer, at which time they also eat flowers, moss, shoots, and grass.

Behavior and reproduction: Five to seven females and their offspring live together on a home range. This home range overlaps with that of a dominating male. The more important or stronger females live at the center of the range, and as old deer die, younger ones move toward the center. Musk deer are nocturnal (active at night). Although fast runners, they tire quickly, so they escape predators usually by jumping and leaping as they run.

These polygamous (puh-LIH-guh-mus) animals give birth in April, May or June, depending on the region. Fawns are hidden for up to two months. Primary predators include lynx, wolverine, foxes, wolves, tiger, bear, and the yellow-throated marten.

Siberian musk deer and people: Humans hunt this species for their musk, which is produced by an abdominal gland in males and valued for its cosmetic and medical uses.

Conservation status: Listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN due to overhunting.