Animal of the Week: Chinese Water Deer
By Kathrine Ledermann, Features Contributor
Hydropotes inermis, also known as the Chinese water deer, is native to east Central Asia and Korea. In their natural environment, they’re able to hide within tall reeds and grass along rivers, mountains and fields. They’re independent animals since being social and living as a herd would inhibit their ability to hide. Their small body size also aids in this, as they are only around three feet in length. They look similar to the American white-tailed deer in size and color, but they’re not closely related to each other.
The Chinese water deer lacks antlers, but instead it has large fangs. Although fangs are usually a trait in carnivores for prey, these deer are herbivores and use their fangs to defend themselves against predators. The fangs are longer in males than females in order to compete with other males for potential mates.
Sadly, the Chinese water deer is considered vulnerable by the IUCN Red List, which lists how endangered species are. This is due largely to hunting. They are poached for their meat and colostrum. Colostrum is a kind of milk produced by the females a few days after giving birth, and it is removed and used in medicines that help immunity in humans.