The chital (or cheetal) deer (Axis axis), also known as the spotted deer or axis deer is a deer which commonly inhabits wooded regions of Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, and most of India. It is the most common deer species in Indian forests. Its coat is reddish fawn, marked with white spots, and its underparts are white. Its antlers, which it sheds annually, are usually three-pronged and curve in a lyre shape and may extend to 75 cm. It has a protracted breeding season due in part to the tropical climate, and births can occur throughout the year. For this reason, males do not have their antler cycles in synchrony and there are some fertile females at all times of the year. Males sporting hard antlers are dominant over those in velvet or those without antlers, irrespective of their size and other factors. A chital stands about 90 cm tall at the shoulder and masses about 85 kg. Lifespan is around 20-30 years.
Ecology and lifestyleChital most commonly occur in herds of ten to fifty individuals, with one or two stags and a number of females and young. They are often fairly tolerant of approach by humans and vehicles, especially where they are accustomed to human disturbance. They do not occur at higher elevation forests where they are usually replaced by other species such as the Sambar deer. Chital eat primarily grasses and vegetation, but also eat their shed antlers as a source of nutrients.
Interspecies intreactionAn interesting relationship has been observed between herds of chital and troops of the Northern Plains Grey Langur (Presbytis entellus), a widespread leaf-eating monkey taxon of South Asia. Chital apparently benefit from the langurs' good eyesight and ability to post a lookout in a treetop, helping to raise the alarm when a predator approaches. For the langurs' part, the chital's superior sense of smell would seem to assist in early predator warning, and it is common to see langurs foraging on the ground in the presence of chital. The chital also benefit from fruits dropped by the langurs from trees such as Terminalia bellerica and Phyllanthus emblica. Alarm calls of either species can be indicative of the presence of a predator such as a tiger.
The Chital is called Jinke in Kannada, Pulli Maan in Tamil, Duppi in Telugu, Phutuki Horin in Assamese and Hiran in Hindi (ultimately derived from Harini, the Sanskrit root word for 'deer'). It has been introduced to Queensland, Australia, Point Reyes National Seashore near San Francisco, California, Texas and Florida as well as Hawaii in the United States.
It is hunted for sport and its meat and hide in the United States. Axis meat is 99.8% fat free - making it the leanest meat of any mammal. The taste of the meat is very close to good beef.
See alsoSri lankan axis deer
chital in German: Axishirsch
chital in Spanish: Axis axis
chital in Finnish: Aksishirvi
chital in French: Cerf axis
chital in Hungarian: Pettyes szarvas
chital in Italian: Axis axis
chital in Lithuanian: Aksis
chital in Marathi: चितळ
chital in Malay (macrolanguage): Rusa Bintik
chital in Dutch: Axishert
chital in Norwegian: Aksishjort
chital in Polish: Jeleń aksis
chital in Russian: Аксис
chital in Swedish: Axishjort
chital in Turkish: Benekli geyik
chital in Ukrainian: Аксис