Sambar deer are light brown or dark with a grayish or yellowish tinge. The underparts are paler. Old sambars turn very dark brown, almost the color black. Their coat of dark short hair is coarse, and their undersides have creamy white to light brown hair. The color of the coat is usually consistent around the body, but it can vary from almost dark gray to yellowish-brown. Males have unique stout, rugged antlers with three points, or tines. Their tail is quite long for deer, generally black on top and dirty white or whitish underneath. Sambars have long, strong legs, the upper color being dark brown, with the inner parts of the legs a paler or dirty white. Their brownish-gray ears are long. Adult males and pregnant or lactating females possess an unusual hairless, blood-red spot located about halfway down the underside of their throats. This sometimes oozes a white liquid and is apparently glandular in nature.
Nocturnality is an animal behavior characterized by being active during the night and sleeping during the day. The common adjective is "nocturnal",...
Crepuscular animals are those that are active primarily during twilight (that is, the periods of dawn and dusk). This is distinguished from diurnal...
A herbivore is an animal anatomically and physiologically adapted to eating plant material, for example, foliage, for the main component of its die...
Terrestrial animals are animals that live predominantly or entirely on land (e.g., cats, ants, snails), as compared with aquatic animals, which liv...
A cursorial organism is one that is adapted specifically to run. An animal can be considered cursorial if it has the ability to run fast (e.g. chee...
Zoochory animals are those that can disperse plant seeds in several ways. Seeds can be transported on the outside of vertebrate animals (mostly mam...
Nomadic animals regularly move to and from the same areas within a well-defined range. Most animals travel in groups in search of better territorie...
A territory is a sociographical area that which an animal consistently defends against the conspecific competition (or, occasionally, against anima...
Among animals, viviparity is the development of the embryo inside the body of the parent. The term 'viviparity' and its adjective form 'viviparous'...
Browsing is a type of herbivory in which an herbivore (or, more narrowly defined, a folivore) feeds on leaves, soft shoots, or fruits of high-growi...
Polygyny is a mating system in which one male lives and mates with multiple females but each female only mates with a single male.
A herd is a social grouping of certain animals of the same species, either wild or domestic. The form of collective animal behavior associated with...
NoNot a migrant
Animals that do not make seasonal movements and stay in their native home ranges all year round are called not migrants or residents.
Sambar deer are native in India, Pakistan, Ceylon, Sri Lanka, Burma, the Philippines, southern China, Taiwan, Borneo, Malaysia, Sumatra, and Java. They inhabit both the gentle slopes and the steeper parts of forested hillsides. Sambar prefer to live in tropical dry forests, open scrub, tropical seasonal forests, subtropical mixed forests with stands of conifers and montane grasslands, broadleaved deciduous and broadleaved evergreen trees, to tropical rainforests, and seldom move far from water sources. These deer can also be found near cultivated areas like gardens and plantations, where they can find food.
Sambar are nocturnal or crepuscular animals and rest during the day under the cover of heavy forest. The males live alone for much of the year, and the females live in small herds of up to 16 individuals. Males are nomadic and will establish their territory primarily during the breeding season; they wallow and dig their antlers in urine-soaked soil, and then rub against tree trunks. Despite their lack of antlers, female sambar readily defend their young from most predators, which is relatively unusual among deer. When confronted by pack-hunting dholes or feral domestic dogs, a sambar lowers its head with an erect mane and lashes at the dogs. Sambar prefer to attack predators in shallow water. Several sambar may form a defensive formation, touching rumps and vocalizing loudly at the dogs. When they perceive danger, sambar stamp their feet and make a ringing call known as "pooking" or "belling".
Sambar are herbivores, eating various grasses, foliage, fruits, leaves, water plants, herbs, buds, berries, bamboo, stems, and bark, as well as a wide range of shrubs and trees.
Sambar are polygynous, meaning that one male mates with multiple females. Males are very aggressive at the time of the breeding season. They guard their breeding territory and attract female deer by means of vocal displays and smell. There is no specific breeding season, though it most commonly takes place between September and January. Usually, just one fawn is born, after a gestation period of about 9 months. Calves at birth are very active. Their hair is brown with lighter spots, which soon disappear. They begin to eat solid food from 5 to 14 days and ruminate once they are 27 to 35 days old. They stay with their mothers for approximately 2 years.
Hunting and habitat encroachment are the main threats. Sambar have developed more of a nocturnal activity pattern as a response to hunting by humans, who hunt them for trade and for food. Natural predators are leopards, tigers, dholes, wolves, and crocodiles. They are sometimes captured for zoos.
The IUCN Red List and other sources don’t provide the number of the Sambar total population size. According to the University of Michigan (Museum of Zoology), the population size of this species in India exceeds 50,000 individuals, and in Australia Sambars number more than 5,000 individuals. Overall, currently, Sambar deer are classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List and their numbers today are decreasing.
The main role of the sambar is dispersing seeds throughout its native range.