Axis axis

Two axi deer fighting in Hellabrunn Zoo. IUCN Red List endangerment category: Least concern
  • Family
    Deer (Cervidae)
  • Weight
    27 – 45 kg
  • Habitat
    Savannahs and grasslands

Female quarrels and male sparring

Their habitat in the savannahs and grasslands of India usually offers plenty of food. However, on occasions when food is scarce violent brawls may break out between individuals. Females scare off their rivals with heavy bites and kicks, while males engage in aggressive sparring with their antlers for dominance and breeding rights during the rutting season.

The picture shows a chital. The body of the animal is seen from behind, but the head is turned towards the camera.

Sometimes solo, sometimes in the herd

Chital form a variety of herd types, which they join based on age and sex. The basic herd is the matriarchal herd composed of females and their fawns. New mums also form nursery herds comprising females with fawns less than eight weeks old before they join the big herd. Males form bachelor herds (from 2 years) or graze alone. The spotted deer also form large mixed herds, especially during the rutting season.

The large dominant stag stays in the centre of the herd for protection against predators, surrounded by the females and their young.