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Water-Deer

WATER-DEER, a small member of the deer-tribe from northern China differing from all other Ceroidae except the muskdeer (with which it has no affinity) by the absence of antlers in both sexes. To compensate for this deficiency, the bucks are armed with long sabre-like upper tusks (see DEER). The species typifies a genus, and is known as Hydrelaphus (or Hydropoles) inermis; but a second form has been described from Hankow under the name of H. kreyenbergi, although further evidence as to its claim to distinction is required. Water-deer frequent the neighbourhood of the large Chinese rivers where they crouch amid the reeds and grass in such a manner as to be invisible, even when not completely concealed by the covert. When running, they arch their backs and scurry away in a series of short leaps. In captivity as many as three have been produced at a birth.

This is one of the few deer in which there are glands neither on the hock nor on the skin covering the cannon-bone. These glands probably enable deer to ascertain the whereabouts of their fellows by the scent they leave on the ground and herbage. The sub-aquatic habits of the present species probably render such a function impossible, hence the absence of the glands. The tail is represented by a mere stump. (R. L.*)

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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