The axis deer goes by many names. It is most commonly called the chital, but it is also called the spotted deer. It looks very similar to the white tailed deer most commonly see around the United States. The population of the axis deer has declined a bit in many portions of the world due to hunting. This medium size deer is known for being the only member of the axis genus of deer. It shares some traits with other deer, but it is unique in how its attributes are put together. As this deer has been introduced to more areas around the world, its numbers have grown. To find out more about this stunning variety of deer, read on.
The axis deer is a light to medium brown color. It is completely covered in white spots along its back, rump, and shoulder area. Beneath the deer, along its legs, and under its belly, is always pure white. It also has a white throat and chin, with a brown face. There is a dark brown or black stripe that runs from the back of the head, down the tail of these deer. Plus, the tail is typically about 8 inches long. The males grow to be around 35 inches at the shoulder and 60 to 160 pounds. On occasion, a massive male will come about, weighing in at as much as 250 pounds. The female axis deer grows to be slightly smaller, at about 28 inches tall at the shoulder, and 55 to 100 pounds. Only male axis deer have antlers, but they typically measure over 3 feet in length. The antlers are also only three-pronged on this species of deer.
The staple of the axis deer’s diet is grass. However, they also like to forage for food, especially before dawn. Their diet of choice is the newest shoots of new plant growth. However, they will eat whatever they find. This can include shrubs, weeds, flowers, herbs, and even fruits. When traveling around for food, herds of these deer like to stick close to water sources. They get a lot of liquid from their diet much of the year, but not enough to live off of. They do need to go and drink water on a regular basis to stay healthy. In a standard day, the herd will cautiously visit their nearest watering hole two times.
The axis deer are currently in zoos and ranches around the world, but it originated from the subcontinent of India. The species were first spotted and named back in 1777 by Johann Christian Polycarp Erxleben of Germany. What you would normally see among axis deer is a very active group of deer during the day. During days of extreme warmth, they will rest in groups under shade trees so as not to use up too much of their stored energy. They travel around in a single line, and are very alert to the noises around them. If they feel as though they are in danger, they will flee in a group. Their bodies allow them to clear fences as high as 5 feet, but they are much happier diving under things to get away when they can.
Today, you can find the axis deer in many more parts of the world than just India, including the US, Argentina, Mexico, and Australia. One of the better places to see them in a more natural habitat is in Texas. They were introduced there and adapted well, helping to regrow the population. While in captivity, the axis deer has a 22 year average lifespan. However, in their natural habitats, they tend to live between 5 and 10 years.
Axis deer form groups as a matriarchal bunch. This means that there is a single female in charge. She rules the roost with her offspring from this year, and the year previous in tow. These animals typically run in groups of just a few members, but there have been times where they have congregated into groups of 100 or more. Male axis deer bark or growl out their calls when rutting season comes around, much like moose of North America. Females like to isolate themselves prior to rutting, and mature males will leave the group when rutting behaviors kick in.
Rutting season is not a particular season. It is actually when the male is sexually mature enough to begin mating. This can happen any time of year. Males will spar amongst themselves to vie for the females’ attention, and the dominant male will win the right to mate with the nearest dominant female. Males continue to grow until they are approximately 8 years old, constantly bulking up and putting on weight to impress the females. Typically, a female will only breed once per year. However, if her fawn dies, she can immediately breed again and have a second fawn in the same year.
One of the biggest predators of the axis deer is man. They are readily hunted in many parts of the world for their meat and their pelts. Its spots create a beautiful backdrop for many. The numbers of axis deer around the world are not on the brink of extinction. However, they are considered an animal to protect in many parts of the world. The herds in these protected lands are bouncing back in terms of numbers, and are starting to thrive. So long as they stay protected, their numbers will continue to grow for the foreseeable future.