rusa deer Click to enlarge image
- Image: Ian Peden
creative commons

Fast Facts

  • Classification
  • Size Range
    Up to 185 cm

Grey-brown or reddish-brown; pale cream or grey underneath with pale grey or white fur around the lips; males larger than females.


Grey-brown or reddish-brown deer with rough fur becoming darker on the hindquarters and thighs. Pale cream or grey underneath with pale grey or white fur around the lips. The tail is long and narrow with a black tip. Males are larger than females with lyre-shaped, three-tined (spiked) antlers and a dark mane in winter. Some males have a white throat patch. Calves are unspotted with reddish tan above and white underneath.


Tropical and subtropical grasslands adjacent to woodland or dense scrub as well as parklands and swamps, occasionally close to suburban areas.


Native to Indonesia, this species has been introduced to many islands in the Indo-Pacific region. In Australia it has established in the Cocos (Keeling) group, Groote Eylandt, Torres Strait islands, several sites in eastern Queensland, along the NSW coast (including Royal National Park) and South Australia.

Feeding and diet

They are partly nocturnal, feeding during the day on a wide range of grasses, herbs, shrubs, ferns and some root crops.

Breeding behaviours

Outside the breeding season, males form separate herds to the females and young. Breeding occurs year round with peaks from late June to October. A single young (rarely two) is born after a gestation period of around 252 days. Lifespan is approximately 15-20 years.

Economic impacts

They cause considerable environmental and agricultural damage and are a recognised pest species in Australian that is highly likely to establish additional populations.

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