Supriya Ghosh (Editor)

Musk deer

Updated on
Share on FacebookTweet on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Reddit
Kingdom  Animalia
Order  Artiodactyla
Scientific name  Moschus
Rank  Genus
Length  80 – 100 cm (Adult)
Phylum  Chordata
Family  Moschidae (Gray, 1821)
Mass  7 – 17 kg (Adult)
Higher classification  Moschinae
Musk deer lh5ggphtcom1wtadqGaaPsTCiPgKc0JIAAAAAAAAGkw
Height  50 – 70 cm (Adult, At Shoulder)
Lower classifications  Siberian musk deer, Alpine musk deer, Black musk deer, White‑bellied musk deer

Musk deer can refer to any one, or all seven, of the species that make up Moschus, the only extant genus of the family Moschidae. The musk deer family differs from cervids, or true deer, by lacking antlers and facial glands and by possessing only a single pair of teats, a gallbladder, a caudal gland, a pair of tusk-like teeth and—of particular economic importance to humans—a musk gland.


Musk deer MUSK DEER Tibet Nature Environmental Conservation Network

Musk deer live mainly in forested and alpine scrub habitats in the mountains of southern Asia, notably the Himalayas. Moschids, the proper term when referring to this type of deer rather than one/multiple species of musk deer, are entirely Asian in their present distribution, being extinct in Europe where the earliest musk deer are known to have existed from Oligocene deposits.

Musk deer Deer with 39fangs39 spotted in Afghanistan for first time in 60 years

Siberia musk deer


Musk deer Musk Deer Pages WWF

Musk deer resemble small deer with a stocky build, and hind legs longer than their front legs. They are about 80 to 100 cm (31 to 39 in) long, 50 to 70 cm (20 to 28 in) high at the shoulder, and weigh between 7 and 17 kg (15 and 37 lb). The feet of musk deer are adapted for climbing in rough terrain. Like the Chinese water deer, a cervid, they have no antlers, but the males do have enlarged upper canines, forming sabre-like tusks. The dental formula is similar to that of true deer:

Musk deer Siberian musk deer photo Moschus moschiferus G34772 ARKive

The musk gland is found only in adult males. It lies in a sac located between the genitals and the umbilicus, and its secretions are most likely used to attract mates.

Musk deer Musk deer Wikipedia

Musk deer are herbivores, living in hilly, forested environments, generally far from human habitation. Like true deer, they eat mainly leaves, flowers, and grasses, with some mosses and lichens. They are solitary animals, and maintain well-defined territories, which they scent mark with their caudal glands. Musk deer are generally shy, and either nocturnal, or crepuscular.

Musk deer Sandwalk Are You Sexually Attracted to Male Musk Deer

Males leave their territories during the rutting season, and compete for mates, using their tusks as weapons. Female musk deer give birth to a single fawn after about 150–180 days. The newborn young are very small, and essentially motionless for the first month of their lives, a feature that helps them remain hidden from predators.

Musk deers have been hunted for their scent glands, which are commonly used in perfumes. The glands can fetch up to $45,000/kg on the black market. It is rumored that ancient royalty wore the scent of the musk deer and that it is an aphrodisiac.


Musk deer may be a surviving representative of the Palaeomerycidae, a family of ruminants that is probably ancestral to deer. They originated in the early Oligocene epoch and disappeared in the Pliocene. Most species lacked antlers, though some were found in later species. The musk deer are, however, still placed in a separate family.


While they have been traditionally classified as members of the deer family (as the subfamily "Moschinae") and all the species were classified as one species (under Moschus moschiferus), recent studies have indicated that moschids are more closely related to bovids (antelope and oxen). The following taxonomy is after Prothero (2007)


  • Hydropotopsis
  • Hydropotopsis lemanensis
  • Hispanomeryx
  • Hispanomeryx aragonensis
  • Hispanomeryx daamsi
  • Hispanomeryx duriensis
  • Hispanomeryx andrewsi
  • Oriomeryx
  • Oriomeryx major
  • Oriomeryx willii
  • Friburgomeryx
  • Friburgomeryx wallenriedensis
  • Bedenomeryx
  • Bedenomeryx truyolsi
  • Bedenomeryx milloquensis
  • Bedenomeryx paulhiacensis
  • Dremotheriinae
  • Pomelomeryx
  • Pomelomeryx boulangeri
  • Pomelomeryx gracilis
  • Dremotherium
  • Dremotherium cetinensis
  • Dremotherium guthi
  • Dremotherium quercyi
  • Dremotherium feignouxi
  • Blastomerycinae
  • Pseudoblastomeryx
  • Pseudoblastomeryx advena
  • Machaeromeryx
  • Machaeromeryx tragulus
  • Longirostromeryx
  • Longirostromeryx clarendonensis
  • Longirostromeryx wellsi
  • Problastomeryx
  • Problastomeryx primus
  • Parablastomeryx
  • Parablastomeryx floridanus
  • Parablastomeryx gregorii
  • Blastomeryx
  • Blastomeryx gemmifer
  • Moschinae
  • Micromeryx
  • Micromeryx styriacus
  • Micromeryx flourensianus
  • Moschus
  • Moschus moschiferus
  • Moschus anhuiensis
  • Moschus berezovskii
  • Moschus fuscus
  • Moschus chrysogaster
  • Moschus cupreus
  • Moschus leucogaster
  • References

    Musk deer Wikipedia