Deer are herbivores correct? Well, yes this is absolutely correct, however there are increasing reports of deer being seen eating meat as part of their diet. Now, I cannot see Muntjac becoming deadly predators prowling around our woodlands, but they have been allegedly seen eating carrion such a dead chicks and hatchlings, rabbits and even squirrels.
If this is true of the Muntjac, this will obviously raise serious alarm bells as if they are occasionally partial to small food items like chicks on top of the wide range of plants they consume. The Muntjac would be confirmed as public enemy number one ecologically speaking and a serious threat to our ground nesting birds and songbirds.
To my knowledge there no documented photos or video evidence of Muntjac displaying this carnivorous behaviour in the UK, so it is purely speculation based on a couple of alleged eyewitness accounts, although there are videos of other deer species displaying this behaviour (not in the UK).
This is extremely puzzling behaviour; biologists are unable to give a satisfactory reason why deer around the world are suddenly exhibiting this rather unusual change in feeding behaviour. It begs the question; did we get it wrong scientifically speaking? Are all deer actually omnivores rather than herbivores as it has always been assumed? Perhaps this is due to a lack of salts and minerals in their diet, so a dose of protein is taken on board every once in a while, to keep everything in balance; it’s absolutely fascinating and I very much look forward future scientific developments in regard to this subject.
Darwin’s Deer – Evolution?
Evolution doesn’t get to a set point in time then stop; it never stops, as evolution by its very meaning is a gradual, endless, continual cycle, so perhaps deer are entering into their next phase along the evolutionary path of life? Adapting, becoming a more efficient version of themselves – it’s not beyond the realms of possibility; a thought-provoking supposition isn’t it?
Of course, deer are not built to be an apex predator and the very though they are is laughable, but they like any other mammal they are capable of taking advantage of an easy meal, even if this is a rare occurrence.
I have personally seen Fallow deer eating the gralloch of other Fallow I have shot, but I’d suggest this was to get at the contents of the gut rather than anything else. However, a close friend said he’s seen the entire gralloch consumed on more than one occasion by a group of Fallow and he shoots a lot of them!
This is an excerpt from the recently published book Reeves Muntjac: Devil Deer by avid deer stalker, Deer HUB member and writer Peter Meek.
Peter wrote this book as a reference for recreational stalkers and newcomers wanting more information and also for those who love the Muntjac deer and wish to broaden their general knowledge to gain a better appreciation and understanding of the often misunderstood, maligned and truly fascinating, unique little deer.