Why Do Muntjac Deer Have Holes on Their Faces? Exploring Theories and Scientific Explanations

Why Do Muntjac Deer Have Holes on Their Faces? Exploring Theories and Scientific Explanations

Have you ever spotted a muntjac deer and noticed the tiny holes on its face? These small creatures are known for their distinctive appearance with those mysterious facial features. What could be the reason behind such peculiar traits, you might wonder! Well, in this blog post, we will delve into the scientific explanations and theories surrounding why muntjac deer have holes on their faces. Get ready to explore these fascinating creatures and learn more about their unique characteristics!

What are Muntjac Deer?

What are Muntjac Deer?
What are Muntjac Deer?

Muntjac deer, also known as barking deer or Mastreani deer, are a small species of deer that belong to the family Cervidae. These creatures are native to Asia and have since been introduced in various parts of Europe.

There are several different types of muntjac deer, including the Indian muntjac, Reeves’ muntjac, and the Fea’s muntjac. They vary in size and appearance but all share similar physical characteristics such as short legs and antlers (in males).

Despite their small size, these creatures are incredibly agile and can move quickly through dense forests – making them difficult to spot for predators. Muntjacs mainly feed on leaves, fruit, flowers and bark from trees.

They communicate with each other through a series of vocalizations that include high-pitched whistles or barks which is where they get their nickname “barking deer.” These fascinating animals might be small in stature but they sure do pack a punch when it comes to unique traits!

The Different Types of Muntjac Deer

The Different Types of Muntjac Deer
The Different Types of Muntjac Deer

Muntjac deer are a group of small deer species belonging to the family Cervidae. There are several different types of muntjac deer, each with their own unique characteristics and features.

Indian muntjac

This is also known as the barking deer due to its distinctive vocalizations. It has short antlers and a dark brown coat with white spots.

Reeves’ muntjac

This is native to southern China but has been introduced in other parts of Asia and Europe. They have longer antlers than Indian muntjacs and a reddish-brown coat.

Tufted or Black Muntjac

They can be found in Southeast Asia including Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. These tiny creatures weigh only 15-20 kg as adults and have black fur on their bodies with lighter fur on their undersides.

Fea’s Muntjac

The Fea’s Muntjac lives in mountainous regions of southeast Asian islands such as Sumatra, Java, Borneo among others. It is one of the smallest members of this family weighing around 11–18 kilograms when fully grown.

In addition to these well-known types there are many other lesser-known sub-species like Gongshan muntjack (M.gongshanensis), Giant muntjak (M.vuquangensis) etc that continue to fascinate biologists worldwide!

The Holes on the Face of Muntjac Deer

The Holes on the Face of Muntjac Deer
The Holes on the Face of Muntjac Deer

Muntjac deer are easily recognizable by the small holes on their faces, just below their eyes. These holes, called preorbital glands or nasal cavities, are a unique feature of this species.

While it may seem strange to us humans, these holes serve an important purpose for muntjac deer. They contain scent glands that produce pheromones used for communication with other deer.

The muntjac deer will rub its face against branches and leaves to deposit these pheromones as a way of marking its territory or signaling its presence to other members of the herd.

Interestingly enough, these preorbital glands are also present in other animal species such as wolves and foxes but they don’t look like holes in their faces because they lack hair around them.

While the appearance of these facial holes might be surprising at first glance, they play an essential role in the social behavior and survival strategies of Muntjac Deer.

Theories About Why Muntjac Deer Have Holes on Their Faces

The holes on the faces of muntjac deer have puzzled animal researchers and enthusiasts alike. There are several theories about why these small creatures have these strange facial features.

One theory suggests that they might be a way to help with thermoregulation, or regulating body temperature. The holes could allow for better circulation and heat dissipation in warmer weather, preventing the deer from becoming overheated.

Another theory speculates that the holes may play a role in communication between muntjac deer. It’s possible that they use their scent glands in these openings to communicate with other members of their species, marking territory or attracting mates.

Some researchers believe that the facial holes may simply serve as an adaptation to living in densely forested areas. By enhancing their sense of smell through additional scent gland openings on their face, muntjac deer can detect predators more easily and avoid danger.

While there is no definitive answer as to why muntjac deer have holes on their faces just yet, continued research will likely provide us with greater insight into this fascinating aspect of animal physiology.

Scientific Explanations for the Holes on the Face of Muntjac Deer

Scientists have been trying to understand the reason behind Muntjac deer having holes on their faces for many years. The most widely accepted theory is that these holes serve as a cooling mechanism for the animal’s brain.

The holes, also known as preorbital glands, are located just below the eyes of both male and female Muntjac deer. These small openings contain scent glands that secrete pheromones used in communication with other individuals of the same species.

Studies have shown that these glands could be related to thermoregulation in Muntjac deer. During periods of high body temperature or intense physical activity, blood vessels located around these glands dilate, allowing heat to escape from the head region and cool down the animal’s brain.

Another scientific explanation for this unique feature is related to self-grooming behavior in Muntjac deer. These animals use their lower incisors to scratch and clean their face around these glandular areas, which can help maintain healthy skin and fur.

While there are still some unanswered questions about why exactly Muntjac deer have holes on their faces, current research suggests that they play a significant role in thermoregulation and self-grooming behavior. Understanding these mechanisms can provide valuable insights into how different species adapt to their environment over time.


What are the holes under deer eyes?

The holes or pits located under the eyes of deer are called lacrimal glands or tear ducts. These glands are responsible for producing and draining tears, which helps to keep the eyes lubricated and free of debris. The placement of these glands under the eyes of deer is an evolutionary adaptation that allows them to constantly moisten and clean their eyes while grazing on vegetation. Additionally, the dark coloration around the lacrimal glands serves to reduce glare and improve visibility in bright sunlight.

Why does muntjac deer face move?

Muntjac deer have a very expressive face, and they often make various facial expressions to communicate with each other. For example, they may raise their eyebrows to signal surprise or excitement, or they may lower them when feeling threatened or scared. They may also move their ears forward or backward to indicate interest or caution, and they may flare their nostrils to take in scents from their surroundings. These facial movements are all part of the natural communication repertoire of the muntjac deer and help them to navigate their environment and interact with others of their species.


The holes on the face of Muntjac deer may seem like a strange and mysterious feature at first glance. However, there are several theories and scientific explanations that shed light on this unique characteristic.

From serving as scent glands to aiding in thermoregulation and communication, these holes have important functions for Muntjac deer survival in their natural habitat.

As we continue to learn more about these fascinating creatures and their adaptations, it’s clear that even the smallest details can play a big role in their lives. The next time you spot a Muntjac deer with holes on its face, take a moment to appreciate the complexity of nature and all its wonders.


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