Most people wouldn’t place deer very high on a list of animals to be scared of — but in some corners of the world, deer seem much more menacing.
That’s because they have fangs.
Instead of growing large antlers during mating season like most deer, male “fanged deer” sport large tusk-like teeth instead. They are used as weapons during fights with other bucks or predators, and often jut out far below their jawline.
These unique creatures are also known as “vampire deer” — but rest assured, they won’t be lurking in the shadows looking for unsuspecting prey anytime soon. Just like other deer, they’re herbivores.
Across Asia, there is a wide variety of fanged deer species, like the tufted deer of Southeast China, or muntjacs, which roam India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Taiwan and even the Himalayan mountains.
They’re also relatively small and very shy — and unfortunately, several species are endangered.
Musk deer, for example, are commonly hunted for their scent glands, which are used in perfume and traditional Asian medicine. One species, the Kashmir musk deer, was believed to be extinct until recently, when they were spotted in the wild for the first time in 60 years.
Other species, like the Chinese water deer, are vulnerable as well, despite their prevalence in the United Kingdom. They were first kept in captivity at the London Zoo in 1873, but a group escaped in 1929 and began to populate the UK countryside. Their population has grown and now accounts for 10 percent of all the world’s water deer.
— maddie (@1madwoman1962) May 7, 2018
So how did these special animals end up with fangs, while other deer have antlers?
It’s believed that, originally, all male deer had both antlers and tusks. But as they evolved, larger species grew larger antlers and lost their fangs, while smaller deer kept their tusks and only developed smaller antlers.
But antlers or not, these tiny fanged deer are definitely adorable — even if they can’t help but look a bit sinister.