Muntiacus atherodesBornean yellow muntjac

Geographic Range

Muntiacus atherodes, commonly called Bornean yellow muntjacs, is found throughout the island of Borneo. (Payne and Francis, 1985)


Bornean yellow muntjacs are terrestrial ungulates that live in variety of habitats, including moist forests, low hills, coastal regions, and areas of dense vegetation. They are not normally found far from water (Nowak, 1999). They are found from 0 to 1200m (ARCBC, 2006). (ARCBC, 2006; Nowak, 1999)

  • Range elevation
    0 to 1200 m
    0.00 to 3937.01 ft

Physical Description

Bornean yellow muntjacs are characterized by a yellowish-orange hue to their fur. They have a darker stripe on the nuchal region which becomes yellowish-orange on the sides and then whitish on the belly. The tail has a dark nuchal stripe and the pale ventral color and is 14 to 20 cm in length. The under part of the throat retains the ventral paleness. The ears are sparsely haired with coloration ranging from deep brown to yellowish or grayish brown with creamy or whitish markings (Nowak, 1999). Males have slender, simple horns of 16 to 42 mm in length. Males lack both frontal tufts of hair and antler burrs (Payne and Francis, 1985). Females have small, bony knobs and tufts of hair in place of horns. Males also have modified upper canines that curve strongly outward from the lips, forming small tusks (Norwak, 1999). At birth, fawns possess lines of white spots on the upper parts of their bodies. These spots remain until they are half their adult size (Payne and Francis, 1985). (Nowak, 1999; Payne and Francis, 1985; Whitehead, 1993)

  • Range mass
    13 to 18 kg
    28.63 to 39.65 lb
  • Range length
    90 to 100 cm
    35.43 to 39.37 in


Little is known about mating in Bornean yellow muntjacs. Mating systems and behavior may be similar to other, better studied, species of muntjacs, where males compete for access to females in estrous.

Bornean yellow muntjacs are polyestrous and breed throughout the year. Their estrus cycle lasts between 14 and 21 days and gestation between 210 and 215 days. Typically a single fawn is born, very rarely twins. The fawn will stay hidden in thick vegetation until it is able to move about with its mother (Norwak, 1999). Weaning lasts between 2 months (Walker, 2006) to halfway into the next pregnancy, which will be conceived just a few days after a fawn is born (Whitehead, 1993). Sexual maturity will be reached within 6 to 12 months (Huffman, 2006). (Huffman, 2006; Nowak, 1999; Walker, 2006; Whitehead, 1993)

  • Breeding interval
    Female Bornean yellow muntjacs can have several offspring each year, depending on the availability of high quality nutrition.
  • Breeding season
    Bornean yellow muntjacs breed throughout the year.
  • Range number of offspring
    1 to 2
  • Average number of offspring
  • Range gestation period
    7 to 7.17 months
  • Average weaning age
    2 months
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    6 to 12 months
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    6 to 12 months

Females lactate and protect their young. Otherwise, little is known about parental investment in the young. Like other muntjacs, Bornean yellow muntjacs are somewhat precocial when born and develop rapidly. (Nowak, 1999)

  • Parental Investment
  • precocial
  • pre-fertilization
    • provisioning
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female


There is little available information on the lifespan of Bornean yellow muntjacs.


Little is known about the behavior of Bornean yellow muntjacs. They are mainly diurnal and lift their feet high when walking (Nowak, 1999). They are often seen in pairs consisting of an adult male and an adult female, they are occasionally observed alone (Payne and Francis, 1985). (Nowak, 1999; Payne and Francis, 1985)

Home Range

Home ranges are not known in Bornean yellow muntjacs.

Communication and Perception

Muntjacs, in general, are known as ‘barking deer’ due to the short, sharp, loud, and deep bark-like call they produce. When alarmed, the barking of Bornean yellow muntjacs can last for more than an hour. The frequency of barking increases in circumstances of reduced visibility (Nowak, 1999). A short, high-pitched mewing sound is emitted by females with young (Payne and Francis, 1985). Muntjacs also use the secretions from their pre-orbital glands to communicate reproductive state, territorial boundaries, and to cement social bonds. (Nowak, 1999; Payne and Francis, 1985)

Food Habits

Bornean yellow muntjacs feed on an assortment of vegetation: leaves, fruits, shoots, grasses, herbs, and seeds. They are mainly diurnal, feeding throughout the day. (Payne and Francis, 1985; Walker, 2006; Payne and Francis, 1985; Walker, 2006; Payne and Francis, 1985; Walker, 2006)

  • Plant Foods
  • leaves
  • wood, bark, or stems
  • seeds, grains, and nuts
  • fruit


Known predators of Bornean yellow muntjacs include clouded leopards (Neofelis nebulosa) and humans. (Payne and Francis, 1985)

  • Anti-predator Adaptations
  • cryptic

Ecosystem Roles

There is little available information on the ecosystem role of Bornean yellow muntjacs. They may help to disperse the seeds of fruit trees by eating them and they act as prey to large, forest predators.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Bornean yellow muntjacs are hunted for their skins and meat. (Nowak, 1999)

  • Positive Impacts
  • food
  • body parts are source of valuable material

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Bornean yellow muntjacs are considered a nuisance because they destroy trees by stripping off bark. (Nowak, 1999)

  • Negative Impacts
  • crop pest

Conservation Status

Bornean yellow muntjacs are listed as primarily lower risk on the IUCN's 2006 Red List of Threatened Animals. Additionally, they fall into the sub-category of least concern (IUCN, 2006). However, hunting pressure on this species is high. They are attracted to grazing areas near roads and in forest cuts, making them more susceptible to hunting (Meijaard et al., 2006). (IUCN, 2006; Meijaard, et al., 2006)

Other Comments

Bornean yellow muntjacs were not recognized as a distinct species until 1982. They were previously considered conspecific with Indian muntjacs (M. muntjak), or were known by the name Muntiacus pleiharicus (Wilson and Reeder, 1993). Besides the difference in physical appearance, Bornean yellow muntjacs and Indian muntjacs (M. muntjak) can be distinguished from each other by their skulls. Bornean yellow muntjacs have smaller skulls, a relatively deep preorbital pit, and reduced frontal ridges. In addition, Bornean yellow muntjacs are the only species in the genus Muntiacus that lack an orange occipital patch (Groves & Grubb, 1982). (Groves and Grubb, 1982; Wilson and Reeder, 1993)


Tanya Dewey (editor), Animal Diversity Web.

Ashley Jetzer (author), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Chris Yahnke (editor, instructor), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.



uses sound to communicate

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


having markings, coloration, shapes, or other features that cause an animal to be camouflaged in its natural environment; being difficult to see or otherwise detect.

  1. active during the day, 2. lasting for one day.

animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.


an animal that mainly eats leaves.


A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.


forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.


an animal that mainly eats fruit


An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.

island endemic

animals that live only on an island or set of islands.


offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).


having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.

World Map


rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.

scrub forest

scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.


remains in the same area


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

sexual ornamentation

one of the sexes (usually males) has special physical structures used in courting the other sex or fighting the same sex. For example: antlers, elongated tails, special spurs.


lives alone


uses touch to communicate


Living on the ground.


the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.


uses sight to communicate


reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.

year-round breeding

breeding takes place throughout the year

young precocial

young are relatively well-developed when born


ARCBC, 2006. "Asean Regional Centre for Biodiversity Conservation" (On-line). Accessed October 15, 2006 at

Groves, C., P. Grubb. 1982. The species of Muntjac (genus Muntiacus) in Borneo; unrecognised sympatry in tropical deer. Zoologische Mededelingen Leiden, 56: 203-216.

Huffman, B. 2006. "The Ultimate Ungulate Page" (On-line). Accessed October 14, 2006 at

IUCN, 2006. "2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species" (On-line). Accessed October 15, 2006 at

Meijaard, E., D. Sheil, R. Nasi, S. Stanley. 2006. Wildlife conservation in Bornean timber concessions. Ecology and Society, 11(1): 47. Accessed November 28, 2006 at

Nowak, R. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World. 6th edition. Baltimore, MD.: John Hopkins University Press.

Payne, J., C. Francis. 1985. A Field Guide to the Mammals of Borneo. Malaysia, Malaysia: Sabah Society.

Walker, . 2006. "World Deer Website" (On-line). Accessed October 14, 2016 at

Whitehead, G. 1993. The Whitehead Encyclopedia of Deer. Stillwater, MN: Voyageur Press, Inc..

Wilson, D., D. Reeder. 1993. Mammal Species of the World. Washington DC, USA: Smithsonian Institution Press. Accessed November 28, 2006 at