Many people find these creatures to be excellent pets. Muntjac Deer loves affection, they are fun to play with, playing tag and racing with you. They become quite attached to their owners and will even follow you around the house.

Muntjac Deer are clean, they smell like newborn human babies. They are litter trained just like a kitten within the first day and there isn’t an odor to the litter. They are very soft and quiet. There is very little shedding. You don’t have to walk them and they don’t make messes. Though they are jumpers, they do not seem to ever jump on the furniture and they can use a doggy door.

The two smaller species, the Leaf Muntjac and Reeves Muntjac, are currently being bred in the United States.

Scientific Classification


Scientific Name

Cervidae muntiacinae
      Muntiacus muntjac Indian Muntjac or Common Muntjac
Muntiacus puntoensis Leaf Muntjac

Muntiacus reevesiReeve’s Muntjac or Chinese Muntjac
Muntiacus crinifrons Hairy Fronted Muntjac or Black Muntjac
Muntiacus feae Fea’s Muntjac
Muntiacus rooseveltorum Roosevelt’s Muntjac
Muntiacus atherodes Bornean Yellow Muntjac
Elaphodus cephalophus Tufted Deer
Muntiacus vuquanhgensis Giant Muntjac
Muntiacus gongshanensis Gongshan Muntjac
Muntiacus truongsonensis Troung Son Muntjac

   It is now thought there are at least 11 sub-species within the Muntjac family.


   The various sub-species of Muntjac were all from Southern Asia and China. The beginnings of the Muntjac Deer started between fifteen and thirty-five million years ago, which has been dated from found remains.
  There have been numerous studies regarding the Muntjac but to date very little is understood about them. All Muntjacs are said to be shy and cautious in nature and live in heavily wooded areas. They are very difficult to find let alone study.
   The sub-species, the Leaf Muntjac, was only discovered in 1999 and it is the smallest deer known in the world. The species found directly before the Leaf Muntjac, also identified in the late 1990’s, is the Giant Muntjac weighing up to 90 pounds. The Reeves Muntjac and Indian Muntjac were introduced into Britain in the late 19th century. They are now found throughout Britain and Scotland. In 1997, they were introduced to the United States.
   The Leaf Muntjac is from Southeast Asia and China and lives deep in the mountains. The Bronx Zoo Wildlife Conservation Society found the Leaf Muntjac high in the mountains of Asia and introduced them in the United States in 1999. They weigh approximately 10 – 20 pounds and the male has antlers, which are shed and grow back each year. The Reeve’s Muntjac weighs approximately 20 – 25 pounds and the male does not have antlers.


   There are hundreds of articles and studies regarding the Muntjac but the information provided varies drastically. Here are just a few of the differences that have been written. Muntjacs range in size from approximately 10 pounds to 90 pounds. The coloring is from a light tan to a reddish color and then a dark brown or black. The coat is described as extremely smooth and soft or very coarse. Some are said to be nocturnal. Some are solitary while others remain in small groups. The breeding cycle and gestation periods of the sub-species are different.
   It is thought the various sub-species of Muntjac have hybridized which would account for even further descriptions. Both sexes of Muntjac have canine teeth or tusks which are slightly longer than their other teeth.
   It is believed the life span for males to be 16 years and for females 19 years.

   The Leaf Muntjac weighs about 10 – 20 pounds, the size of a medium cat or large chicken. The Leaf Muntjac is the smallest member to date and the only one that has been identified with antlers.
   They have huge eyes allowing them to see in the dark. There are scent glands on either side of the nose, which are almost invisible unless they are trying to locate or identify something. Then the scent gland would open slightly and close as if they were out of breath. The coloring is buck or a dark tan and there is a slightly darker V running from the forehead to the end of the nose. Their legs are as thin as a pencil and the tail is usually up. As babies, they have white spots in their fur.
   Only the male grows antlers. The antlers are shed each year but grow back the following season with a new point. The antlers can easily be removed so they can use a doggy door.
   The Reeves Muntjac looks pretty much the same as the Leaf Muntjac. However, the Reeves Muntjac are  larger weighing 20 -25 pounds. They are also slightly darker in color. The males have a flat horn about 4 inches long, which lies very close to the head. The horn, like the antler are shed each year.


   You can keep them as inside pets, outside pets, or inside-outside pets by using a doggy door and a five foot (preferably wooden) fence for their area.
   If they are going to be indoors then you need to provide a soft bed and litter. Use dirt or sand for the litter. You would have to empty the litter every 3 to 4 days. You need bowls for water and food and a salt lick. Keep the bowls clean and wash their bed as needed, always leaving something in the bed with the deer’s scent.
   Did you see Bambi on the ice? This would be your little deer on tile. Just put down a small runner. They don’t chew on furniture or shoes but do not put your leftover vegetables within easy reach in a paper garbage bag. Fortunately, any problems your little deer might get into happens very slowly over time. You see them think about it before they actually do it and you can then provide safeguards. These deer have a shy and cautious nature and are not adventurous so they stay out of trouble most of the time.
   Housed outside you would need all the above and you must also provide them shelter against heavy storms, wind and cold. This can be done using a doggy igloo, a small barn, or a shed area with hay for shelter and warmth. Place it in an area that is protected from heavy wind and rain.
   They jump. The tiny Leaf Muntjac can jump five to six feet. They don’t jump an outside five-foot back yard fence because they stay within their territory. If they are a house pet, the house is their territory. Just as you have to childproof your home, you would have to deerproof your home. They don’t get in the cupboards but will climb the stairs. Usually they can’t climb down so they would then jump from the landing possibly breaking a leg.

muntjac deer in Kao Yai National Park
Image Credit: Super Prin, Shutterstock

Care and feeding

   Should you decide to purchase a little deer it is recommended that you wait until the deer is at least 5-10 days old. Request that the breeder feed the baby with a bottle 2 – 3 days prior to you taking the little creature home. It is also better if the breeder has introduced the baby to food. It is difficult to care for a baby deer in its first few days of life.
     A baby deer is hidden by its mom and they stay where she puts them. This would be true in your home as well. Place the baby deer in a soft bed, preferably with something that has your scent (old T-shirt or blanket). The area should feel safe to the deer with minimum noise and light. The baby deer will stay there and not venture out for a week or so. Keep his food and litter (dirt and sand) by his bed. The first few times you give him a bottle or food, put him in the litter and he will start using it. I found the easiest place to have them was a walk in closet. It is quiet and I left the door open. The hall light would be on which was enough light to feed and give them their bottle.
   You would give a two week old baby deer three to four bottles a day and use the same formula the breeder is using. You can mix rice cereal with the formula and put it in a bowl and let the deer start to eat. Sometimes to get them started you need to put it on your finger and feed him a few times. Next start them on banana and apple, then go to sweet potatoes and vegetables slightly cooked. Follow this with by adding lettuce and bread, and finally to grass, sweet feed, and vegetables. Make sure they always have water.
   If you are going to have the deer as an inside pet, then make sure the litter (dirt and sand) is close to where you are feeding the baby and where the baby is sleeping. The baby deer needs to eat a little sand and dirt for his stool to be firm.
   After a week or so, the baby will start to venture out. Gradually they will learn the home and be comfortable with its noises and rooms. Whatever changes you make in those first weeks, make them slowly. Don’t move them to a place they have not walked to on their own. When they are familiar with the home then you can move their bed to wherever it is convenient for you. Your baby is now eating food, still taking formula (about 3 times a day), and using the litter.
   At about 8 to 10 weeks of age, they really don’t need the formula anymore but we gave ours formula every night before bed even after they were 5 years old and had their own babies. When ours were outside most of the time they would come to the back door about 4 pm for their treat fruit and vegetables and their bottles.
   As babies they shouldn’t be outside unless it is warm and you have a small pen for them and a doggy igloo for them to hide and sleep in. It is inconvenient to have them outside initially. Remember, at first they are just a little bigger than the size of your hand.
   Deer graze on anything green. This is fine if it is the lawn and weeds. If you have a special garden or favorite rosebushes then don’t make it a part of their fenced in area. They love sweet feed; fruits, vegetables, corn and cornhusks, and carrots can be fed to them. They love bread. You can also give them the leftovers from the table (leaving the bones for the dog). When they are full they will leave the rest and not overeat. Fresh water and a salt lick needs to be available at all times.

Social Behaviors

   Muntjacs by nature are shy and extremely cautious. They approach anything new very slowly. As one foot goes in front of the other it appears they are not moving. Once they are familiar with the home, their territory both inside and out, they become relaxed.
   They make themselves at home among all the family members including most pets.  They come to play at everything from a party to a bridge game and they will come when their name is called. They will play with other children or adults.
     Some of the information on Muntjac states they are solitary by nature and others say they remain in small groups. They graze in separate areas but they do play together.  They run in circles together and they all come if you call.
   They are also called the Barking Deer because when they feel threatened or sense danger, they bark. This rarely happens but if they bark there is a problem.
   When a male deer’s testosterone kicks in, his antlers start to grow and he gets a little aggressive. This seems to happen around his second or third year and everything is fair game to have for a mate. This includes you, your children or any other animals in the house. You can keep him outside at this time of year. This period for the male lasts 3 – 4 months. Then his testosterone goes down, the antlers start to fall off and he is back to your lovable little boy deer.

Handling and Training

  The Leaf Muntjac like affection but you should move very slowly to start until they become familiar with you. They will stay close to you rubbing against you like a cat. They stretch to kiss you and rub against your face as well. They love playing with the different members of the family and would play forever, it seems. They are litter trained just by placing them in the litter. They know their name but I was not able to find any other information regarding training.

Activities – Exercise and Play

  Tag, racing, and hide and seek are the games they seem to play with humans or with each other. You hide and very slowly they will come to you knowing exactly where you are by scent.  When they find you, just go boo and they run and hide. Then the game starts again.
Outside they run and play jump when there isn’t anything to jump over. For the most part they are quiet and lay in the grass or shrubs. Then at times for no apparent reason they all get up and start running around.


   In various articles and books, it has been stated the season for mating is all year. With the Leaf Muntjac we found the season to start in the spring and last about 3-4 months.
  There was no consistent information on the breeding and gestation periods of the various Muntjac. The Leaf Muntjac have one baby a year and the mating season is 3 – 4 months in the spring. The males can become slightly aggressive at this time with other male deer or anything that enters their territory. They can be housed separately if you don’t want babies or you can just separate them out during the day so you can play with the little girls.


   The Muntjac Deer are resilient creatures and seem to have overcome the normal susceptibility to internal parasites the other deer species have. We could not find any diseases or ailments that were unique to the Muntjac Deer. We are not aware of any medical requirements and they seem quite hardy. However, if not taken care of properly they can become ill. Most ailments are preventable simply from taking proper care of the animal.

Availability/Purchasing your Muntjac Deer

   The Muntjac deer today are not readily available as pets but with a little perseverance you can certainly find one. There are deer magazines and exotic pet magazines which advertise the Muntjac for sale. You can usually find them for sale on the internet by looking for exotic pets for sale or Muntjak deer for sale.
   The price for a male is considerably less than a female. The male usually costs about $500 -$700. The females start around $700 and have gone as high as $1800 several years ago. They are becoming easier to obtain as more are being bred and the price is coming down.

Featured Image Credit: 22August, Shutterstock