Chinese water deer (Hydropotes Inermis), a small Asian deer belonging to the Cervidae family (order Artiodactyla), is a very small Asian species of deer. It's a Cervidae member of the Cervidae order Artiodactyla and is native to the fertile river valleys in Korea, as well as the Yangtze River (Chang Jiang), valley in China. The only species of deer that has males without antlers is the Chinese water deer (Hydropotes inermis), which has long, straight, and pointed upper canine teeth that protrude out of the mouth. These tusks can be more than 5 cm (2 in) long. Water deer is the only deer to have inguinal glands.
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Water deer look like extinct primitive deer, but they are actually an evolved form of antlerless ancestors. Their morphology suggests that they are New World Deer. The males are approximately 50cm (20inches) tall and can weigh in at 13 kg (29 lbs). Females can weigh in at 11 kg (24 lbs). Their coat is uniformly colored, with yellowish brown on top and yellowish-white below. The tail is short and has no rump. They are adaptable to the cold, snowy winters with their thick, furry coats and fur-covered ears.
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Water deer use hiding to evade predators and quick bounding flights that are rabbit-like in nature. They are usually found alone. However, observations of captive animals indicate that males may use their tusks as a defense mechanism. The lush vegetation along river bottoms is what water deer favor; they consume a surprising amount of coarse-fibred grasses, which serve both cover and food.
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The breeding season runs from November through February and the fawning period lasts from April through June. Multiple young can be born to water deer at once. At birth, the fawns are less than 1 kilogram (2 pounds). They are quick to hide and stay out of sight.
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Water deer bodies look thicker than normal deer. However, the bulkier appearance is not due to their body weight. Their body structure is supported by strong hind legs that extend further than their front legs. This raises their shoulders at an angle higher than their stomachs. This shape gives them a more stocky, less sleek appearance.
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This species is very strong, but it only grows to about two feet when fully grown. It weighs in at 20 to 31 pounds. They can move very quickly across the land using their back legs, which is not as fast as running but more like a quick, extended hopping.
Their ears are rounder than regular deer. Their faces almost look like a teddy bear from a distance. Be careful with those fangs!
Male bucks use their tusks for protection against predators and potential mates. But unlike antlered deers fighting, fighting among tusked waterdeer is rarely fatal. Their sharp fangs can cause serious injuries.
Water deer's name comes from the habitat they prefer, which is near rivers, streams and swamps. They are also adaptable and can live in cold environments, which is why they have been able survive in many northern areas. They are also excellent swimmers and can travel up to seven miles per hour without stopping. This allows them to easily move between islands, which will allow them to live a full life.
The lower Yangtze Basin in east-central China is home to the Chinese water deer. It can also be found in Korea. It was also introduced to France and England, and it became wild in France and England (Butzler 1990; Allen 1940).
Chinese water deer can be found among tall reeds and rushes that run along rivers as well as tall grass in mountains and cultivated fields. They can also be found in swampy areas and open grasslands. They can hide well and will seek shelter in any type of cover. They are not afraid of water or swamps but prefer dry land. They may be found in the hollows and furrows of open fields when the cultivated fields they inhabit are cut (Butzler 1990; Allen 1940; Wilson 1993; Brown 1991).
Chinese water deer are small and can grow to be as long as 775 to 1,000 mm in length. Their tail is short, measuring between 60 and 75 mm in length. They have thick, coarse hair. The hair is thickest on the rump and flanks, with a maximum length of 40mm in winter coat. The face is grayish-reddish brown at the top, with a whitish chin and upper neck. The back and sides are typically a uniform yellowish brown and finely striped with dark. The underparts of the animal are white. The underparts of both sexes are white. However, the canine upper teeth, particularly in males, have a larger size and form a long, slightly curled tusk. The most prominent feature of bucks is their saber-like, upper canines. They can protrude up to 52 mm from their upper jaws and are dangerous, sharp weapons. Female canines are smaller at just 5 mm on their inner sides. The canines are more prominent because of a dark spot at the bottom of the lower lips, just behind the upper canines. The Cervidae has a small scent gland on the forehead, which is visible to both sexes.
The Chinese water deer is rarely found in groups; they are usually found in pairs or alone. Its quiet and unobtrusive behavior, as well as hiding in dense vegetation, makes it a great protection against enemies. Water deer bucks are asexual and will not tolerate any other animals. They will defend their territory against all competitors. Water deer bucks can tolerate one or two female water deer. Females can accompany the buck on his hunt for food and rest. With their heads about shoulder-level, the fighting bucks are roughly parallel. The bucks aim to strike the opponent at the nape or shoulders by swinging their heads downwards. Many times, they are able to rip out skin and hair, inflicting painful and potentially fatal injuries. During mating season, the bucks are more aggressive towards each other. If an opponent loses, he will be pursued relentlessly and driven from the territory. The victorious bucks are likely to kill the defeated, if they don't appease them with a gesture that allows them to surrender. They lay their head and neck on the ground and then the stronger animal ends the fight.
The Chinese water deer, despite their insular behavior, alert one another to danger by a short barking sound that acts as a warning voice. The alarm call is loud and clear. A Chinese water deer will huff its back when it is disturbed and then take a series of leaps. The Chinese water deer can swim several kilometers and will often move back and forth between islands in search of food and cover.
Water deer bucks often mark their territory by rubbing their foreheads on tree trunks. While no forehead glands have yet been discovered on water deer bucks, other deer will sniff out the marked areas enthusiastically. The interdigital glands could also leave other scent marks when the deer paws on the ground. Also, dung deposits may be used as scent markings (Butzler 1990; Wilson 1993; Allen, 1941; Nowak 1991; Hofmann 1988; Brown 1991).
The Chinese water deer eats reeds and coarse grasses as well as vegetables and beets. Although the Chinese water deer is equipped with a four-chambered stomach, its rumen pillars have poor development. The deer is unable to digest carbohydrates from plants very well. The deer must choose foods that are low in fiber, but high in soluble carbohydrate, proteins, and fats. Chinese water deer are very selective feeders. They prefer to eat herbs, forbs and young sweetgrasses over the fibrous, coarser vegetation of mature grasses (Nowak 1991; Allen 1940; MacDonald 1987; Putnam 1988).
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