Tetracerus quadricornisfour-horned antelope

Geographic Range

Tetracerus quadricornis is found only in India and Nepal (Nowak, 1999; Walker, 1995).


Four-horned antelopes are found primarily in wooded areas in India. The species is still widely distributed throughout its range. T. quadricornis uses the hilly country and tall grassy areas for shelter. It prefers open forests and is rarely seen, dashing into thick cover at the first sign of danger (MacDonald, 1984).

Physical Description

T. quadricornis weighs between 15 and25 kg. The body length is 80-110 cm, with a shoulder height of 55-65 cm, and a tail length of 10-15cm. The hair is short, coarse, and thin, with sexually dimorphic brownish color above and lighter on sides. The insides of the legs are white along with the middle of the belly. Males are dull-red brown above, with white below, and have a dark stripe that runs down the front of each leg. Older males are yellowish. Females typically are a brownish-bay color. The horns, only on males, are smooth, short, and conical. The posterior set range from 80 to100 mm in length. The front two are typically 25-38 mm long, and sometimes only a raised black area of skin is present. The muzzle and outer surface of the ears are blackish brown. The small hooves are split and rounded in the front. Four-horned Antelopes are unique, being the only bovids with four horns (Nowak, 1999; Walker, 1995; Macdonald, 1984).

  • Range mass
    15 to 25 kg
    33.04 to 55.07 lb
  • Range length
    80 to 110 cm
    31.50 to 43.31 in


Males can be extremely aggressive to one another during the rut. Further information on the mating system of this bovid is not available.

Mating takes place during the rainy season from July to September. The gestation period is 7.5 to 8 months (Grizmek, 1990). Usually one or two young per litter are born with an average weight of about 1 kg each (Nowak, 1999).

  • Breeding season
    The breeding season is July to September, and births occur from March to May.
  • Range number of offspring
    1 to 2
  • Average number of offspring
  • Average number of offspring
  • Range gestation period
    7.6 to 8.1 months
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    Sex: female
    365 days

As in all mammals, the female nurses her young. Although information is not available on the specifics of parental care in this species, it is common for Artiodactyls to produce precocious young. Male parental care is typically not associated with bovids.


T. quadricornis in captivity can live up to 10 years of age (Nowak, 1999).


T. quadricornis is not gregarious, and rarely are more than two individuals found together. These animals are sedentary and inhabit the same region throughout their lives. It is not known whether or not territories are formed or defended. In the rut, males have been found to be extremely aggressive to other males. They can be easily tamed when young, but have been found to be extremely delicate in captivity. Population densities are thought to be less than 0.5 animals per square kilometer (Nowak, 1999; Walker, 1995; Macdonald, 1984).

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

T. quadricornis is primarily a grazer. The primary foods of these antelope are grasses, shoots, and fruit. They are rarely found far from water (Nowak, 1995).

  • Plant Foods
  • leaves
  • fruit


The predators of T. quadricornis are tigers, leopards, wolves, dhole, and small cats. Information on anti-predator adaptations are not available, but they are likely to rely primarily on vigilance and speed to escape predators.

Ecosystem Roles

The role of this species within its ecosystem has not been evaluated. Because it is a prey species, it probably affects predator populations to the extent that those predators rely upon T. quadricornis for food. It also has a likely role in affecting plant communities through its browsing behavior.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

T. quadricornis may be eaten by people in India and Nepal, but it is reportedly not as good to eat as are other antelopes. This species is sought after by trophy hunters because of its unique horns. In India ecotours are offered and one the top attractions is often the four-horned antelope. It is also a species sought after by zoos. (Nowak, 1999)

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

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

No negative affects on humans have been reported.

Conservation Status

T. quadricornis is currently listed by the IUCN as vulnerable and is on CITES Appendix III in Nepal. The habitat of this species is being fragmented by human activities (Nowak, 1999).

Other Comments

These animals are very wary and rarely viewed in the wild and not much is known about them due to their elusive nature. Population estimates range from 1,000 to 10,000 animals. They have a pecular jerky manner in the way they walk and run. They are sometimes confused with hog deer, but their movements distinguish the two easily (MacDonald, 1984).


Brooks Lundeen (author), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Chris Yahnke (editor), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.


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


humans benefit economically by promoting tourism that focuses on the appreciation of natural areas or animals. Ecotourism implies that there are existing programs that profit from the appreciation of natural areas or animals.


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.

female parental care

parental care is carried out by females


union of egg and spermatozoan


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.

internal fertilization

fertilization takes place within the female's body


having the capacity to move from one place to another.


This terrestrial biome includes summits of high mountains, either without vegetation or covered by low, tundra-like vegetation.

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

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season


remains in the same area


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


lives alone


uses touch to communicate


that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).


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

young precocial

young are relatively well-developed when born


Grzimek, B. 1990. Grizmek's Encyclopedia of Mammals. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Huffman, B. January 25, 2003. "The Ultimate Ungulate: Four-horned Antelope, Chousingha" (On-line). Accessed March 7, 2003 at http://www.ultimateungulate.com/4hantelope.html.

Macdonald, D. 1984. The Encyclopedia of Mammals. New York: Facts on File Publications.

Nowak, R. 1999. Walkers Mammals of the World, Sixth Edition. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Nowak, R. 1995. "Walker's Mammals of the World Online" (On-line). Accessed October 25, 2001 at http://press.jhu.edu/books/walker/artiodactyla.bovidae.tetracerus.html.