Habitat: central China and northeastern Myanmar
Status: Near Threatened
This strange creature is the Tufted Deer (Elaphodus cephalophus); a poorly studied but fascinating animal. They’re named for the tuft of reddish hair that grows on their foreheads. Males have tiny antlers that barely poke through this interesting hairstyle. They’re small for deer standards, only reaching 20-28 inches (50-70 cm) in height and 43-63 inches (109-160 cm) in length.
What they lack in size they make up for in demeanor. These are solitary animals (although they occasionally travel in pairs) that travel in fixed routes throughout their territory which is fiercely defended by males. As you may have noticed, these deer have large, fang-like canines and in males these can get to be up to 2.6 cm (1.0 in) long. While your average deer will use their antlers to defend their territory and win females, the tufted deer uses its canines to fight and defend itself instead. Which is kind of cooler if you ask me. They’re like the vampires of the deer world!
Because they are found in mountainous, high, damp forests at 500–4,500 metres (1,600–14,800 ft) above sea level they really haven’t been studied all too well. The only other interesting fact I came across was that when feeling threatened, the tufted deer will let out a loud bark before running away in a wild pattern that makes it difficult for a predator to follow it. You’d think one look at those huge fangs would be enough to stop any hungry follower in its tracks! Well, unless it’s after a young tufted deer which happen to be really, really adorable:
The photos above show Twycross Zoo’s young tufted deer Ying Xiong (pronounced Ying Yong) which means hero in Chinese. The small male fawn was born on 16th June 09 and weighed 1.5 kg at birth which is smaller than a bag of sugar. Tufted deer typically have 1-2 fawns per litter.