Fea's muntjacs are found in Thailand and the southernmost region of Myanmar that lies directly to the west of Thailand, known as Tenasserim. Some reports include Laos, Vietnam, and southern China as part of the former range of this species.
Biogeographic Regions: oriental (Native )
Photographs of several muntjacs from Kaeng Krachan National Park (Thailand) appear to be of this species (R.J. Timmins pers. comm. 2008, based on Dusit Ngoprasert/WCS unpublished data). Camera-trapping in the western forest complex of Thailand has apparently documented the species on several further occasions, and animals have also been observed in the field (Anak Pattanavibool pers. comm. to R.J. Timmins 2008; R. Steinmetz pers. comm. to R.J. Timmins 2008), but identification of these animals could be considered provisional because it has been assumed that only two muntjac species inhabit this part of Thailand (M. feae and M. vaginalis); this might not be the case. Animals have usually been identified on the basis of dark pelage and especially the blackish tail (Anak Pattanavibool pers. comm. to R.J. Timmins 2008; R. Steinmetz pers. comm. to R.J. Timmins 2008), but such characters do not rule out some other muntjac species confirmed from neighbouring areas, including ,i>M. gongshanensis and some animals in the ,i>M. rooseveltorum species complex (R.J. Timmins pers. comm. 2008). The most northerly of the recent records assigned to this species is from Mae Wong National Park in montane forest at 1,450 m asl (16° 4' 46'' N, 99° 7' 4'' E) (Anak Pattanavibool pers. comm. to R.J. Timmins 2008).
One photograph from 1,250 m asl in Hponkanrazi Wildlife Sanctuary in northern Myanmar shows a male with some features similar to M. feae (R.J. Timmins pers. comm. 2008, based on WCS unpublished data), and may refer to this species, particularly in the light of suggestions that the species is in China (see taxonomic note). This site lies far from the generally accepted Myanmar range of M. feae and raises the possibility that the species might have a much wider range in Myanmar than generally assumed. This record is not included in the distribution map (which should be considered highly provisional in any case). This record would also indicate sympatry with M. gongshanensis.
Northern Thailand, Burma
Fea's muntjacs, Muntiacus feae, are similar in size to Indian muntjacs, Muntiacus muntjak, which measures 57 cm at shoulder height. Unlike Indian muntjacs, in which males are taller than females, M. feae females are taller than males by 6 to 7 cm. The average weight of an adult M. feae is 22 kg. This small deer is uniformly brown in color with light stripes down the back of the legs and yellow hair at the crown of the head and around the pedicles. Tufts of hair on the forehead may be lighter in color. The relatively long tail is fringed with white hair. The elongated pedicles of males' antlers converge and each has a black line running up its center. The antlers are slightly longer than those of other barking deer (e.g. black muntjac Muntiacus crinifrons, which has antlers that do not exceed 60 mm in length). The long pedicles of muntjacs may be an adaptation to minimize the energy required to regrow antlers after they are shed, as the tropics are relatively nutrient-poor. Males have tusk-like canines that are 1 to 2 cm long.
Average mass: 22 kg.
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry
Sexual Dimorphism: female larger; ornamentation
Fea's muntjacs are woodland dwellers, preferring moist sub-tropical forests. They live in evergreen forests as well as teak forests, and rarely leave dense vegetation to forage in fields. They are found at elevations of less than 1500 meters.
Range elevation: 0 to 1500 m.
Habitat Regions: tropical ; terrestrial
Terrestrial Biomes: forest ; rainforest
Habitat and Ecology
Towards the centre of their known Thai range, in Kuiburi National Park, Fea’s appears to be relatively common in evergreen forest, being camera-trapped more frequently than northern red muntjac even at elevations of 300 m asl. In open forest types, however, northern red muntjac clearly dominates, and Fea’s doesn’t appear to use deciduous forest types much (if at all), for example in Kuiburi NP they come right to edge of open habitat but don’t cross the line out of evergreen forest. In contrast, northern red muntjac overlaps with Fea’s in evergreen forest, including high elevation, although Fea’s may be the more common in montane evergreen forest above 1000 m asl (R. Steinmetz pers. comm. to R.J. Timmins 2008; but see note under Distribution about provisional status of such records). Further north in Thung Yai Wildlife Sanctuary the species appears to be commoner (based on cameras, sightings and interviews) than northern red muntjac in forest habitats up to at least 1,000 m asl (there has been little survey work at higher altitudes), although sign abundance of muntjac species certainly declines with increasing altitude, especially above 1,000 m asl (R. Steinmetz pers. comm. to R.J. Timmins 2008). In contrast within Huai Kha Khaeng WS which lies at a similar latitude to Thung Yai WS, but further east, Fea’s muntjac is rare even in montane evergreen forest. This may be due to a rain shadow effect which leaves forest in the east drier than forests in Myanmar or close to the border in westernmost Thailand (R. Steinmetz pers. comm. to R.J. Timmins 2008).
Muntiacus feae, like other muntjacs, is a generalist omnivore, feeding on herbs and leaves, bark, mushrooms, fruits, and possibly even bird eggs, bird young, and small mammals. Muntiacus feae individuals tend to stick to densely wooded areas, preferring more digestible vegetation over grass. Their rumen has two blind sacs, and food is passed through the digestive system relatively quickly in comparison to grass-eating artiodactyls. Foraging occurs primarily at night; small mammals and birds may be killed with the hooves and tusk-like incisors.
Animal Foods: birds; mammals; eggs
Plant Foods: leaves; roots and tubers; wood, bark, or stems; fruit
Primary Diet: herbivore (Folivore , Frugivore )
Fea's muntjacs are important predators of plants and, possibly, small birds and mammals, in the ecosystems in which they live. Their grazing impacts vegetational community composition.
Predators of these muntjacs include humans, tigers, leopards, dholes, wild dogs, and pythons, among others. Muntjac young may also be killed by wild boars. Muntiacus feae may bark to let a predator know it has been detected or to alert conspecifics to danger. Foraging at night in dense forest may provide some protection from predation.
- humans (Homo sapiens)
- tigers (Panthera tigris)
- leopards (Panthera pardus)
- dholes (Cuon alpinus)
- wild dogs (Canis lupus familiaris)
- pythons (Python)
Anti-predator Adaptations: cryptic
Life History and Behavior
Muntiacus feae individuals make barking noises when startled by predators, possibly to alert conspecifics to danger or to let the predator know it has been detected. During mating, Chinese muntjacs (Muntiacus reevesi) make clicking noises with their teeth. The primary mode of communication in M. feae is likely chemical, as it has frontal glands and can evert preorbital glands to mark territory.
Communication Channels: acoustic ; chemical
Other Communication Modes: scent marks
Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical
Muntiacus feae, like other muntjacs, has a relatively short lifespan compared to other cervids. Few data are available on the longevity of M. feae, but one wild-born specimen lived to nearly 12 years of age in captivity. Given its rapid maturation and generalist tendencies, M. feae is assumed to fill a duiker-like role in ecosystems and would likely have a similar lifespan of a decade or less.
Status: captivity: 11.6 (high) years.
Status: wild: up to 10 (high) years.
Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
Males may compete for access to females by sparring with antlers or fighting using their fang-like canines, although little is known directly about M. feae mating. Males likely defend a territory that encompasses that of several females.
Mating System: polygynous
Muntiacus feae likely breeds year-round as do other subtropical muntjacs, but breeding may be concentrated in winter months. The thinner pedicles compared to other members of subfamily Cervinae suggest that intraspecific fighting with antlers in males may have a less important role in competition for mates than in other muntjacs. Little is known about the reproduction of M. feae, but there are likely many similarities to other muntjacs. Chinese muntjacs Muntiacus reevesi have a gestation period of 243 days, with most females reaching sexual maturity by twelve months of age. In Chinese muntjacs, half of conceptions studied in one captive population occurred during the two-week long estrus period that females undergo immediately after giving birth. As is common for most deer, M. feae females usually give birth to one fawn which is darkly colored and remains with the mother until it reaches maturity.
Breeding interval: Breeding occurs throughout the year.
Breeding season: Breeding may be concentrated in the winter months.
Range number of offspring: 1 to 2.
Average number of offspring: 1.
Average gestation period: 8.1 months.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 12 months.
Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; year-round breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; viviparous ; post-partum estrous
Young M. feae stay with their mother until they reach maturity. Fathers have little to do with raising the young, as they remain very territorial throughout the year. The male's territory may encompass that of several females, but competition for resources may occur between males and females. Little is known regarding the involvement of the parents in the raising of young.
Parental Investment: altricial ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-independence (Protecting: Female)
The United States Fish and Wildlife Service listed Muntiacus feae as endangered in 1979. The IUCN Red List formerly described M. feae as endangered, but changed its listing to 'data deficient' in 1996 due to a lack of information on population size and range. Fea's muntjacs are not listed in CITES Appendices.
US Federal List: endangered
CITES: no special status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: data deficient
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- 1996Data Deficient
Date Listed: 07/27/1979
Lead Region: Foreign (Region 10)
Where Listed: Northern Thailand,Burma
Population location: Northern Thailand,Burma
Listing status: E
For most current information and documents related to the conservation status and management of Muntiacus feae , see its USFWS Species Profile
The Thanintharyi (= Tensasserim) region of Myanmar is currently relatively intact, but the ongoing and projected conversion of forests to oil palm plantation in southern Myanmar (Leimgruber et al. 2005) is some level of threat. Such conversion could destroy all large blocks of forest in the lowlands and adjacent lower hills, which includes some of the elevation range of the species. Forest and thus deer at higher elevations would probably remain secure. Altitudinal distribution of the species is too little understood to allow adequately assessment of this threat.
In northern Myanmar (not confirmed to be within the species' range), muntjacs are commonly hunted, particularly for pelts (Than Thaw pers. comm. 2006); hunting levels in the known Myanmar range can also be assumed to be high. In Thailand, Feas’ muntjac is apparently not specifically targeted by hunters, perhaps because of scarcity relative to M. vaginalis in many of the areas supporting most of the hunting, and its primary range in higher elevations which are not visited frequently by hunters (Anak Pattanavibool pers. comm. to R.J. Timmins 2008).
There is a need for taxonomic work, including a re-evaluation of recent field and captive animals (there is a small captive population within Thai zoos) presumed to be M. feae with reference to the holotype, to determine that such animals are indeed this species. Diagnostic characters for the species also need to be clarified in light of recent discoveries of other muntjacs superficially similar in various morphological characteristics. Confirmation in particular is needed of camera trap records from Thailand and Myanmar as referring to this species rather than to any other darkish muntjac, and suggestions of the species' occurrence in China and far northern Myanmar need to be investigated (R.J. Timmins pers. comm. 2006). The species' status, habitat associations, and elevational limits need to be established (R.J. Timmins pers. comm. 2006).
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Muntiacus feae can cause damage to trees meant to be harvested as timber crops by eating their bark. Some reports indicate that muntjacs have taken snared game birds.
Negative Impacts: crop pest
Fea's muntjaca, like other muntjacs, almost certainly provide meat and skins to the people that live within its range.
Positive Impacts: food ; body parts are source of valuable material
The Fea's Muntjac or Tenasserim muntjac (Muntiacus feae) is a rare species of muntjac native to China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. It is a similar size to the common muntjac (adult weight is 18 – 21 kg (40 - 46 lb)). It is diurnal and solitary, inhabiting upland evergreen, mixed or shrub forest (at an altitude of 2500 m (8200')) with a diet of grasses, low-growing leaves, and tender shoots. The young are usually born in dense vegetation, remaining hidden until able to travel with the mother.