Black musk deer

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Black musk deer
Moschus fuscus - Kunming Natural History Museum of Zoology - DSC02455.JPG
CITES Appendix I (CITES) [2] [note 1]
Scientific classification OOjs UI icon edit-ltr.svg
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Moschidae
Genus: Moschus
M. fuscus
Binomial name
Moschus fuscus
Li, 1981
Moschus fuscus map.png

The black musk deer or dusky musk deer (Moschus fuscus) is a species of even-toed ungulate in the family Moschidae. It is found in Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, and Nepal.



M. fuscus is, in appearance, a small deer with long, thick hind legs in comparison to the front legs, and no antlers. The dusky musk deer has large and well developed ears and eyes. Males and females are similarly sized, between 70 and 100 cm in length and 10 and 15 kg in weight, and generally have thick brown hair. There is variation in color and vibrancy, which is evident in spotting. Upper canine teeth in males form sabers that can extend past the jaw, but not in females. Unlike most cervids, this creature possesses a gallbladder and does not have the same facial glands. Mature males have a musk gland between the navel and genitalia, and females have two mammae. [3]

Behaviour and ecology

The black musk deer is nocturnal, and most of their activities take place at night, dawn and dusk. This species is highly solitary. An individual of this species is not likely to live with any other deer, although they have been known to let other females “babysit” their young. Territoriality is also another salient feature, especially for males. [4] Living in the mountainous areas that have gorges and forests, these agile deer possess the ability to climb trees and move freely even at the dangerous edge of a cliff or in the very thick bushes. [3] They are more ferocious than other members in the family Moschidae, especially in the case of males fighting for mates. In addition to low growls, these deer may attack their opponents with their tusks and strong fore hooves. Black musk deer are also considerably vigilant. They do not return to the site where they are frightened or attacked before, even it is in a previously established “safe” territory. [5] [6]


The black musk deer has a number of predators. Some studies show that up to 43% of the diet of some lynx may consist of black musk deer. Humans prey on the deer more than all of their natural predators combined. They are caught and killed mainly for their musk glands, which are used as a base for perfumes. Ethical concerns have led to the use of synthetic musk, but this has not prevented the black musk deer from being included on the endangered list. [3] [6] [7] Black musk deer have mating periods beginning in late November into December, lasting roughly one month. They have a polygynous mating system, mating with more than one female at a time. Breeding typically occurs in November and December. During mating season, a male excretes scents from scent glands to indicate his territory [3] [4] [5]


Gestation lasts roughly six months, ending in parturition, which normally occurs during June or July. Typically, females give birth to one or two young. The newborns weigh about 500 g, and have spots. The young are cared for by their mother after birth for several months, until weaning occurs. This process generally takes between three and four months. At six months, the young have typically reached full adult size. Sexual maturity, however, does not occur until roughly 18 months. [3] [4] [5]

Not much is known about black musk deer parental care. Females are generally the main caretakers, as they watch their young for roughly 3 to 4 months. Typically, the young travel with their mothers throughout this period, during which the mother defends and grooms her young. The role of the father in parental care is currently unknown. [4]


All animals have a certain position on the food web. Even the black musk deer, although only endangered, its lack of species numbers has a detrimental effect on the environment in which it lives and the food web in which it participates. They are believed to affect the vegetation because they consume mostly grass and other plants. Because they are hunted by humans and other animals such as the wolverine, lynx, and yellow-throated marten, their numbers have been greatly reduced, so they are now on the endangered species list. With fewer black musk deer around, it has become more difficult for these predators to find food, greatly affecting the food web. [3] [6] [7]

The musk glands of the full-grown males have been collected for use in soaps and perfumes. The deer are hunted by people and companies looking to make money. At one point in the 1980s, the musk of the adult male deer was worth four times its weight in gold. Because of its high demand in the soap and perfume market, the price of the musk was very high. Another reason the deer are hunted is due to the belief that the musk of the deer has medicinal purposes. By tradition, they use it as a sedative and a stimulant. [4] [7]

Due to excessive hunting, it has been since placed on the endangered list. Another issue associated with the loss of the deer is habitat loss from deforestation. Not much is being done to save the deer from possible extinction. [3] [4] [5] [6] [7]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Even-toed ungulate</span> Order of mammals

The even-toed ungulates are mammals belonging to the order Artiodactyla. They are ungulates—hoofed animals—which bear weight equally on two of their five toes: the third and fourth. The other three toes are either present, absent, vestigial, or pointing posteriorly. By contrast, odd-toed ungulates bear weight on an odd number of the five toes. Another difference between the two is that many other even-toed ungulates digest plant cellulose in one or more stomach chambers rather than in their intestine as the odd-toed ungulates do.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dusky hopping mouse</span> Species of rodent

The dusky hopping mouse, is a small rodent endemic to Australia, inhabiting desert regions characterised by sand dunes. Populations have experienced significant declines since the arrival of Europeans, and continue to be subject to threatening processes. It is currently listed as a threatened species.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Musk</span> Class of aromatic substances used in perfumes

Musk is a class of aromatic substances commonly used as base notes in perfumery. They include glandular secretions from animals such as the musk deer, numerous plants emitting similar fragrances, and artificial substances with similar odors. Musk was a name originally given to a substance with a strong odor obtained from a gland of the musk deer. The substance has been used as a popular perfume fixative since ancient times and is one of the most expensive animal products in the world. The name originates from the Late Greek μόσχος 'moskhos', from Persian mushk and Sanskrit मुष्क muṣka derived from Proto-Indo-European noun múh₂s meaning "mouse". The deer gland was thought to resemble a scrotum. It is applied to various plants and animals of similar smell and has come to encompass a wide variety of aromatic substances with similar odors, despite their often differing chemical structures and molecular shapes.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Moschidae</span> Family of mammals belonging to even-toed ungulates

Moschidae is a family of pecoran even-toed ungulates, containing the musk deer (Moschus) and its extinct relatives. They are characterized by long 'saber teeth' instead of horns, antlers or ossicones, modest size and a lack of facial glands. The fossil record of the family extends back to the late Oligocene, around 28 million years ago. The group was abundant across Eurasia and North America during the Miocene, but afterwards declined to only the extant genus Moschus by the early Pleistocene.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Musk deer</span> Genus of mammals

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. Despite being commonly called deer, they are not true deer belonging to the family Cervidae, but rather their family is closely related to Bovidae, the group that contains antelopes, bovines, sheep, and goats. The musk deer family differs from cervids, or true deer, by lacking antlers and preorbital glands also, possessing only a single pair of teats, a gallbladder, a caudal gland, a pair of canine tusks and—of particular economic importance to humans—a musk gland.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Muntjac</span> Genus of deer

Muntjacs, also known as the barking deer or rib-faced deer, are small deer of the genus Muntiacus native to South Asia and Southeast Asia. Muntjacs are thought to have begun appearing 15–35 million years ago, with remains found in Miocene deposits in France, Germany and Poland. Most are listed as least-concern species or Data Deficient by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), although others such as the black muntjac, Bornean yellow muntjac, and giant muntjac are vulnerable, near threatened, and Critically Endangered, respectively.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Common spotted cuscus</span> Species of marsupial

The common spotted cuscus, also known as the white cuscus, is a cuscus, a marsupial that lives in the Cape York region of Australia, New Guinea, and nearby smaller islands.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Southern red muntjac</span> Barking deer (Muntiacus muntjak)

The Southern red muntjac is a deer species native to Southeast Asia. It was formerly known as the Indian muntjac or the common muntjac before the species was taxonomically revised to represent only populations of Sunda and perhaps Malaysia. The other populations being attributed to this species are now attributed to Muntiacus vaginalis. Muntjacs are also referred to as barking deer. It is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List.

<i>Antechinus</i> Genus of marsupials

Antechinus is a genus of small dasyurid marsupial endemic to Australia. They resemble mice with the bristly fur of shrews.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Thorold's deer</span> Species of mammal

Thorold's deer is a threatened species of deer found in grassland, shrubland, and forest at high altitudes in the eastern Tibetan Plateau. It is also known as the white-lipped deer for the white patches around its muzzle.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pampas deer</span> Species of mammals belonging to the deer, muntjac, roe deer, reindeer, and moose family of ruminants

The Pampas deer is a species of deer that live in the grasslands of South America at low elevations. They are known as veado-campeiro in Portuguese and as venado or gama in Spanish. It is the only species in the genus Ozotoceros.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Siberian musk deer</span> Species of mammal

The Siberian musk deer is a musk deer found in the mountain forests of Northeast Asia. It is most common in the taiga of southern Siberia, but is also found in parts of Mongolia, Inner Mongolia, Manchuria and the Korean peninsula.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Striped skunk</span> Species of mammal

The striped skunk is a skunk of the genus Mephitis that occurs across much of North America, including southern Canada, the United States, and northern Mexico. It is currently listed as least concern by the IUCN on account of its wide range and ability to adapt to human-modified environments.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">White-bellied musk deer</span> Species of mammal

The white-bellied musk deer or Himalayan musk deer is a musk deer species occurring in the Himalayas of Nepal, Bhutan, India, Pakistan and China. It is listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List because of overexploitation resulting in a probable serious population decline.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dwarf musk deer</span> Species of mammal

The dwarf musk deer or Chinese forest musk deer is an artiodactyl native to southern and central China and northernmost Vietnam. The species name is after the collector Mikhail Mikhailovich Berezovsky. On June 14, 1976, China entered the dwarf musk deer onto its endangered species list. Four subspecies are recognized:

<i>Desmognathus fuscus</i> Species of amphibian

Desmognathus fuscus is a species of amphibian in the family Plethodontidae. The species is commonly called the dusky salamander or northern dusky salamander to distinguish it from populations in the southern United States which form several distinct species, the southern dusky salamanders. The northern dusky salamander is the most widespread representative of its genus in Canada. It can be found in eastern North America from extreme eastern Canada in New Brunswick south to South Carolina. The size of the species' total population is unknown, but is assumed to easily exceed 100,000. The species' habitat differs somewhat geographically; dusky salamanders in the northern part of the range prefer rocky woodland streams, seepages, and springs, while those in the south favor floodplains, sloughs, and muddy places along upland streams. They are most common where water is running or trickling. They hide under various objects, such as leaves or rocks, either in or near water. Alternatively, they may enter burrows for protection. The dusky salamander lays its eggs close to water under moss or rocks, in logs, or in stream-bank cavities. The larval stage which follows is normally aquatic.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Alpine musk deer</span> Species of musk deer

The Alpine musk deer is a musk deer species native to the eastern Himalayas in Nepal, Bhutan and India to the highlands of Tibet.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Deer musk</span> Odorous substance from male musk deers caudal gland

Deer musk is a substance with a persistent odor, obtained from the caudal glands of the male musk deer.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kashmir musk deer</span> Species of mammal

The Kashmir musk deer is an endangered species of musk deer native to Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan. Recent studies have shown that the species is also native to western Nepal. This species was originally described as a subspecies to the alpine musk deer, but is now classified as a separate species. The deer stand at 60 cm (24 in) tall, and only males have tusks and they use them during mating season to compete for females.


  1. Wang, Y.; Harris, R. (2015). "Moschus fuscus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species . 2015: e.T13896A61977357. doi: 10.2305/IUCN.UK.2015-4.RLTS.T13896A61977357.en . Retrieved 15 November 2021.
  2. "Appendices | CITES". Retrieved 2022-01-14.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Hoptner, V; et al. (1988). Mammals of the Soviet Union: V1 Artiodactyla and Perissodactyla. Smithsonian Institution Libraries and The National Science Foundation.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Nowak, Ronad M. (1999). Walker's Mammals of the World (6th ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press.
  5. 1 2 3 4 Wilson, Don E. (2005). Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference. Johns Hopkins University Press.
  6. 1 2 3 4 Geng, Shusheng; Shila Ma (2000). "Decline of musk deer in China and prospects for management". Environmental Conservation. 27 (4): 323–325. doi:10.1017/s0376892900000369. S2CID   85915617.
  7. 1 2 3 4 Yang, Qisen; Xiuxiang Meng; et al. (2003). "Conservation status and causes of decline of musk deer (Moschus spp.)". Biological Conservation. 109 (3): 333–342. doi:10.1016/s0006-3207(02)00159-3.


  1. Only populations of Afghanistan, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, and Pakistan. All other populations are included in Appendix II.