The barking deer

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Well this is how I felt when I first saw the muntjac deer. Known by some as the 'barking deer' due to its habit of making a terrier type yapping noise, it's in fact an alien species to these shores and was first introduced in the early part of the 20th century.

Muntjacs were originally brought all the way from China to deer parks such as Woburn Abbey in Bedfordshire and subsequently escaped, quickly establishing successful feral populations in the wild.

Their tenacity and ability to breed all year round means they've spread to many parts of England and Wales. They can be found in surprising places and even in urban environments being spotted next to motorways and in parks.

They're pretty small - about the same size as a dog. The males have small antlers and a distinct 'v' shape on their faces. But the real funny feature of the muntjac is their tiny little tusks. They're kind of like a cross between a small deer and a warthog I suppose!

They're incredibly skittish and wary and you can understand how they've managed to survive simply by blending into the background. They're also solitary, so unlike other deer species you're not going to see huge herds of them.

We went filming them for the new Autumnwatch series that I'm working on at the moment. It was pretty tricky-going for our cameraman as they're such secretive animals. But finally, after many painstaking hours and a bit of good fortune he got some great footage of a male muntjac barking (as you an see from the video clip).

In this case it's probably barking or yapping to sound an alarm but they also do it to make a challenge and to sound their location to other deer.

So, for its secretive nature and unusual looks, the muntjac is definitely a favourite deer of mine. Also, I suppose the simple fact that you may be lucky enough to spot one in the countryside or even in you local parkland! So, have you ever seen any? Drop me a line using the comment form below.

Here's my pick of this week's wildlife web:
Big Cat Live comes to our screen soon all the way from the Masai Mara in Kenya but it's already started on the web! It looks great and my pal Chris is there to tell you what's going on in camp.

What's on:
Minibeast hunt in Newport

Some Halloween themed wildlife events happening on 28 October.

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