Chinese water deer

water deer

Donald Sutherland

Chinese water deer

Scientific name: Hydropotes inermis
Chinese water deer are easily distinguished from other deer by their strange teddy bear like appearance and the huge canine tusks displayed by the stags.

Species information



Conservation status

IUCN Red List - Vulnerable

When to see

January to December


As its name suggests this unusual deer is not a native UK species, having been introduced from China in the nineteenth century. It favours wet, marshy habitat and is a strong swimmer.

How to identify

Chinese water deer are a ginger/brown colour and lack the white rump seen in other species. They are larger than a muntjac but slightly smaller than a roe deer. Their large fluffy ears and small black nose give them a teddy bear like appearance. The males possess some rather threatening looking tusks in place of canine teeth, which are used for displaying and rutting with other males in the breeding season.


Occur throughout Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire. They are threatened in their native habitats in China.

Did you know?

Chinese water deer have been studied extensively at Woodwalton Fen NNR since the 1970s by local deer expert Arnold Cooke. He has witnessed and recorded behaviour which was previously unknown, including an insight into their browsing habits which has revealed a great love of common comfrey!