Hog Deer

Hog Deer

Indochinese hog deer, Thai hog deer, Indian hog deer

Hyelaphus porcinus
Population size
Life Span
10-20 years
kg lbs 
cm inch 
cm inch 

The Indian hog deer (Axis porcinus ) is a small deer native to the Indo-Gangetic Plain in Pakistan, northern India, Nepal, Bangladesh to mainland Southeast Asia. It also occurs in western Thailand, and is possibly extirpated from China (in southwestern Yunnan Province), Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam. Introduced populations exist in Australia, as well as the United States (in Texas, Hawaii, and Florida), and Sri Lanka (where its native status is disputed).

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Its name derives from the hog-like manner in which it runs through forests (with its head hung low), to ease ducking under obstacles instead of leaping over them, like most other deer.

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In former times, Hog deer were abundant and widely distributed throughout their range. Currently, this endangered species has lost a considerable part of its original range and population. The remaining isolated populations now inhabit south and south-eastern Asia. The animal is so called due to its habit of holding its head low in hog-like manner, when running through vegetation. Hog deer have typical appearance for species of the genus Axis. However, they differ from other Axis deer by low and sturdy build as well as short face and steep profile.



Hog deer are found from Pakistan and northern India through Nepal and Bhutan to mainland south-eastern Asia, Burma, Thailand as well as in Sri Lanka, Australia and the U.S., where they have been introduced. Preferred habitat of this species is tall grassland. They also favor reed beds on floodplains, adjecent to big rivers. Hog deer live in open areas and avoid closed forests. They may occasionally be seen in agricultural areas and scrubland.

Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

Hog deer are solitary animals. However, they may occasionally be observed feeding in small herds in open terrains with an abundance of food. They are also known to form small family units. Periods of increased activity are dawn and dusk, rarely, the daytime hours. In areas with excessive hunting, Hog deer have to lead nocturnal life. These mammals are generally sedentary. They tend to live in the same area and do not migrate. Males of this species display highly territorial behavior, marking their home ranges with a special substance, produced by their scent glands. When facing a threat, members of a group typically flee in various directions. They hide in dense vegetation until the danger has passed. When running, these animals hold their heads low and their tails raised, exposing the white colored under-side. They commonly use alarm calls such as sharp barks and whistles.

Group name
Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

Hog deer are herbivores (folivores). The diet of this animal is generally composed of grasses, supplemented with other plants such as leaves.

Mating Habits

August-October, may vary in the introduced populations
8 months
1 fawn
6 months
doe, hind
buck, stag

Hog deer have a polygynous mating system, where each male mates with a number of females. However, some males of this species exhibit monogamous behavior, mating and defending only one female. Populations within the natural range mate in August-October, while introduced populations may have different timing of reproduction. During this period, male hog deer engage in harsh competition, aggressively defending their mating rights. Females yield a single, fully-developed fawn in May-July, after 8 months of gestation. The fawn is typically born in a secluded place, among dense grass or reed beds, where it's protected from numerous predators of the area. During the first several days of its life, the baby lives alone while the mother feeds. She occasionally visits the fawn to suckle the baby. The young deer is weaned at 6 months old. The age of reproductive maturity is 8 - 12 months old.


Population threats

During the last few decades, Hog deer have suffered from sharp population decline. Currently, these animals live in small, isolated populations in the remaining fragments of their former range. They continue to face some serious threats such as hunting for food. They are still losing their habitat because of human settlements and agricultural development. As a result, many populations become isolated in small patches of favorable habitat.

Population number

The IUCN Red List and other sources don’t provide the number of the Hog deer’s total population. However, according to the IUCN Red List resource, specific populations have been estimated in some areas. For example, in India there are: 10,000 deer in Kaziranga; 1,500 deer in Manas; 500 deer in RG Orang (all in Assam); more than 250 deer in Jaldapara; and 100 deer in Keibul Lamjao (in Manipur). In addition, the population in Royal Manas National Park of Bhutan is likely to be more than 150 deer. Overall, Hog deer’s numbers today are decreasing today and the animals are classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List.

Ecological niche

Due to their diet Hog deer’s are assisting in seed dispersal.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • Hog deer are known to be accomplished swimmers. When feeling danger, they typically flee by entering the water.
  • When noticing a predator, they usually elevate their tails, making the white fur visible. This serves as an alarm signal, warning community members of a potential threat.
  • Nearly all deer species exhibit antlers, a unique phenomenon, peculiar only to deer, whereas other ruminant species have horns. Deer antlers are outgrowths of bony material from the head. As opposed to horns, antlers of these animals aren't covered with keratin.
  • The eyes of these animals are located on the sides of their head, providing a rather wide view of up to 310 degrees. On the other hand, due to this spacious view, they cannot focus on one point.
  • Possessing a highly-developed auditory sense, deer are able to hear high-pitched sounds that cannot be perceived by human ear. Additionally, they have numerous muscles, controlling movements of their eyes. Hence, they can turn their eyes in almost all directions without even moving their heads.
  • The good sense of smell of these animals is sustained by odor particles. Thus, deer lick their nose in order to maintain it moist. As a result, odor particles stick to their nose, enhancing the olfaction.
  • Baby deer do not produce any scent. This protects them from predators, who could smell the characteristic odor and find the fawns. They live in a secluded place among bushes, where the mother visits to suckle them about six times per day.


1. Hog Deer Wikipedia article - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_hog_deer
2. Hog Deer on The IUCN Red List site - http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/41784/0

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