AXIS DEER

QUICK FACTS

Scientific Name

Axis axis

Species Survival Plan

No

Habitat

Semi-open, dry scrub forest

Predators

Tiger, wild hog and leopard

Food

Grasses, forbs, leaves, twigs and acorns

Originally Native To

India, Nepal and Sri Lanka

Height

39.5 inches at shoulder

Weight

Male 200 lb.
Female 165 lb.

Characteristics

White spots on reddish coat, white bibs and black dorsal stripe; males have 3 tined antlers

Gestation Period

7.5 months

Offspring

1 fawn

Birth Season

Spring

Lifespan

Wild 9 - 13 years
Captivity 18 - 22 years

Social Behavior

Families of female and offspring; herds of 2 or more families

iucn_badge_least_concern

ABOUT THE AXIS DEER

Axis deer are also called chital deer or spotted Indian deer. In India, the axis deer population has declined mainly due to habitat loss.

Originally from southern India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, the axis deer was introduced to Hawaii in the 1860s. Then in 1932, it was introduced to Texas as a game animal. Many axis deer eventually escaped to become wild animals in Texas. 

While the vast majority of axis deer remain in captivity, thousands roam the state freely, taking advantage of the warm weather and ample grasses similar to their native land. Wild axis deer in Texas compete with native white-tailed deer for resources, plus they are more resistant to disease outbreaks than white-tailed deer. Compared to a white-tailed deer of the same age, axis are typically slightly taller with a longer body.   

It is considered by many to be the most beautiful of deer with an orange coat marked with white spots - similar to a white-tailed fawn - that remain throughout its life, as well as a white patch on its throat. They have two large antlers that can reach 30 inches in length and usually only have three points.

Axis deer can often be found near a stream with a ravine for shelter. They prefer territory with woody vegetation for cover and open areas for feeding. Size of their home range varies with habitat but averages two-and-a-half square miles.

Axis deer are less nocturnal than most deer, usually feeding for four hours after sunrise. Then, they seek water and rest in the shade during the midday heat, returning to feed for a few hours before sunset.

Where there are no predators, their numbers can grow to the point where axis deer will destroy their own habitat. Coyotes and bobcats will go after them, but cannot make a significant dent in the population. They do not seem to be territorial but may fight, often with serious consequences, for possession of the females.

Similar to elk, these spotted deer are extremely vocal, letting out distinctive, sharp alarm calls to communicate. Rutting males emit bugle-like bellows and both sexes have alarm calls or barks.

Axis deer are good swimmers with no fear of the water. Fawns are protected by both parents, but stay close to mother. Breeding can occur year-round and an axis deer can give birth twice in one year, which isn't the case for native Texas deer. 

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