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Chital (Spotted Deer)

 

The most common of all deer found in the subcontinent, it is easily identifiable by its beautiful golden brown coat that is decorated with big white spots. An average stag is about 85-90 cm tall at its shoulder, and weighs 80kg. Unlike other ungulates, the coat of the spotted deer remains more or less the same throughout the year. Large herds can be seen in almost all the National Parks of North India. 

The spotted deer forms the main diet of almost all predatory animals. To counter attacks from its enemies, the spotted deer has evolved a unique vigilance system in which the entire herd takes part. The weak and the sick animals form the periphery of the herd while the cubs and their mothers remain towards the middle of the group. While grazing, each and every member of the herd is on the alert. The lookout habitually lifts its head to try and get a whiff of predators. It stands still to sense danger. If the threat is for real, it stomps its hind legs, and emits a shrill call a signal for the entire herd to flee to a safer area. 

The spotted deer has what can be called a 'memorandum of understanding', with lemurs. Lemurs keep it informed about any possible attack from its predators. The spotted deer also benefits from the leftovers that lemurs keep dropping from trees. In fact, the relation between the two species is so symbiotic that they explore the jungle together. 

Another interesting fact about the spotted deer is that it does not wallow during the rut (and why should it, given its beautiful golden coat). Instead it emits a shrill call, and walks proudly, displaying its antlers. The mating season of the spotted deer is not very well defined and varies in different parts of the country. The species breeds once every six months, and the litter comprises of a single fawn. 

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