Natural Histories

photograph of a Sunda Pangolin

Chital or Axis Deer

Axis axis


Chital have a reddish coat with longitudinal rows of white spots and also a dark dorsal stripe along the spine. Chital have white fur on the underbelly, inner legs, and underside of their short tail. Sexual dimorphism (differences between males and females) exists in this species; males have tall, lyre-shaped antlers which are shed annually and can grow to be a meter long. Males also have darker colored fur and black facial markings. Adult chital grow to be about 1.5 m long and 0.6-1 m in shoulder height.


Chital originate from India and Ceylon, where they can be found in grasslands and sometimes in adjacent jungles. This species prefers short grasslands because they do not provide cover for large predators such as tigers. Chital can also be found in riverine forests of the Bardia National park of Nepal during the dry season. Populations of chital have been introduced to Texas and Hawaii.

Feeding Behavior and Diet

Chital are herbivores, consuming only vegetative material. The main food sources for this species include grasses, flowers, and fruits that have fallen to the ground. Occasionally chital consume mushrooms as a source of protein and nutrients. Grass and sedge species become very important food resources for chital in a sal forest during the monsoon season.


Breeding usually occurs in April or May and is indicated by bellows made by males to attract a mate. Females reach sexual maturity at about 14-17 months of age, producing about one fawn every year. The gestation period of a chital is about 7.5 months. After the fawn is born it nurses from its mother until it can safely travel with the herd.

Months and Times of Activity

The peak time of activity for this species is during the morning, evening and night. Chital choose midday to rest in the shade because most parts of the day are very hot in their native areas.

Special Features, Stories, Relationships

  • Chital join herds based on age and sex. Adult females and their young form matriarchal herds, this is the most common her type. Females also form nursery herds consisting of females with fawns less than 8 weeks old. Sexually active males follow matriarchal herds during mating season. Males that are not sexually active form bachelor herds.
  • Chital have been introduced to Texas and Hawaii. This species is also very successful when kept in captivity.
  • To read a legend featuring this animal go to:
  • Children’s book featuring this animal: The Spotted Deer by J.H. Williams


Lundrigan, B. and C. Gardner 2000. "Axis axis" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed November 04, 2014 at