Chital (Axis axis) are native to India, southern Nepal, southern Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. They have been introduced and established in Europe (Croatia, Ukraine, Moldova), Armenia, the Andaman Islands, New Guinea, Australia, the United States (California, Texas, and Hawaii), Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina.
These medium-sized deer are heavily spotted year-round. Chital head and body length is around 150 to 155 cm for males (bucks) and 140 to 145 cm for females (does). Tail length is around 25 to 30 cm. Shoulder height is around 85 to 95 cm for bucks and 70 to 80 cm for does. Adult bucks are 70 to 85 kg (up to 110 kg) and adult does are 45 to 60 kg (up to 70 kg). Males have a dark chevron over the face and an elongated penis sheath. Adult males have long three-tined antlers.
Chital prefer moist and dry forest areas adjacent to scrubland or grassland, but are also found in swampy meadows close to forests, in riparian forests, and in teak plantations. They eat mainly grasses, but also forbs, leaves, flowers, and fruits. In the Sundarbans mangrove forest (Bangladesh) they are know to feed on crabs as well.
In their native range, Chital tend to use more wooded habitats during the cool-dry season and early summer (November to May), where they find browse and fruit, and use more open grasslands when the monsoon rains bring a flush of plant growth.
Female Chital reach sexual maturity at around a year, males several months later. Mating may occur throughout the year, with a higher frequency from March to July. After a gestation period of around 231 to 235 days, a single fawn is born. Weaning occurs at 5 to 6 months. The maximum known age in captivity is 21 years. The major predators of Chital in their native range are Tigers (Panthera tigris), Leopards (Panthera pardus), and Dholes (Cuon alpinus).
Chital are mainly active around dawn and dusk, with two main resting periods, one before dawn and the other at midday. Males have home ranges of around 200 to 350 ha, females around 150 to 250 ha. The basic social unit is the family group, consisting of a mother, her fawn, and the offspring of the previous year. Two or three families may form temporary, fluid herds of 6 to 12 animals, often accompanied by subadult males and visted by adult bucks. In some situations, where there is a concentration of food or water, aggregations of 150 to 200 individuals can occur.
Chital populations appear to be secure.
(Mattioli 2011 and references therein)
- Mattioli, S. 2011. Family Cervidae. Pp. 350-443 in: Wilson, D.E. and Mittermeier, R.A., eds. Handbook of the Mammals of the World. Volume 2. Hoofed Mammals. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
No one has provided updates yet.