Creature Feature Archives
Order Artiodactyla: Family Cervidae: Cervus axix
Axis deer is native to India, where it is known as the "chital". It was introduced into Texas about 1932. In 1988, free-ranging herds were established in 27 counties of central and southern Texas. It now is found as a confined animal on ranches in 67 other Texas counties. Axis deer are the most abundant exotic ungulate in Texas.
Axis deer are found in secondary forests, broken by glades, with an understory of grasses and forbs, which supply adequate drinking water and shade. Usually avoiding rugged terrain, they feed on grasses at all seasons, augmented with browsing. In Texas, they graze on grasses such as paspalum, switchgrass, and little bluestem. Sedges are a favorite spring food. Browse species include live oak, hackberry and sumac.
These animals are gregarious and usually are found in herds ranging from a few animals to 100 or more. In each herd the leader is usually an old, experienced doe. Unlike native deer, adult male axis deer normally are found living with herds of young and old animals of both sexes. Axis deer are more closely allied to the North American elk than to our native deer. Like some elk, rutting male axis deer emit bugle-like bellows, and both sexes have alarm calls or barks.
They have become a seriously over populated pest in Texas. The solution is for wild game to become legal to serve in restaurants.