Cervus unicolor

Sambar Deer

Sambar Deer

Distribution, Abundance, and Seasonality

The sambar deer is an uncommon resident of dense valley foothill hardwood and grassland habitats on the Hearst Ranch in San Luis Obispo Co. This introduced deer is not known from other locations in California.

Sambar Deer Range Map
Range Map

Specific Habitat Requirements

Feeding: Feeds primarily on grasses, forbs, and browse (Barrett 1966). Richardson (1971) found that sambar deer in Texas fed heavily on browse in winter, switching to grasses in summer.

Cover: Seeks cover in dense stands of woodlands (Barrett 1966, Schaller 1967).

Reproduction: Needs dense woods for mating and raising young.

Water: No data found.

Pattern: Prefers dense woods for cover and reproduction, interspersed with open grassy areas for grazing.

Species Life History

Activity Patterns: Active yearlong; primarily feeds nocturnally.

Seasonal Movements / Migration: None reported in California.

Home Range: Females are found in small groups, and males usually are solitary (Barrett 1966, Wheeler 1979). Size of home range unknown (Nowak and Paradiso 1983).

Territory: Schaller (1967) observed that males in India established small territories during the rut, where they were joined by females for varying periods.

Reproduction: The rut occurs in the fall, with parturition following in the spring. Little else is known about the mating habits of sambar; probably similar to other cervids.

Niche: Native of Asia, from India into China. This ungulate of dense forests may compete with other exotic ungulates on the Hearst Ranch, as well as with livestock and native black-tailed deer. Potential predators are mountain lions, which could take adults or young, and bobcats and coyotes, which probably would take mostly young.

Sources & References

California Department of Fish and Game, 1999.
California's Wildlife, Sacramento, CA.
Written by: R. A. Hopkins, reviewed by: H. Shellhammer, edited by: J. Harris, S. Granholm

Barrett, R. H. 1966. History and status of introduced ungulates on Rancho Piedra Blanca, California. M.S. Thesis, Univ. Michigan, Ann Arbor. 141pp. Nowak, R. M., and J. L. Paradiso. 1983. Walker's mammals of the world. 4th ed. 2 vols. John Hopkins Univ. Press, Baltimore, MD. 1362pp. Richardson, W. A. 1971. A natural history survey of the sambar deer (Cervus unicolor) on the Powderhorn Ranch, Calhoun County, Texas. 1971. Ceaser Kleberg Res. Proj. Wildl. Biol., Annu. Rep., Texas A and M Univ., College Station, TX. 325pp. Schaller, G. B. 1967. The deer and the tiger. Univ. Chicago press, Chicago, IL. 370pp. Wheeler, M. E. 1979. The biology of the Guam deer. Guam Dep. Agric., Aquatic and Wildl. Resour. Div., Tech. Rep. No. 3. Agana, Guam. 53pp.

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