The axis deer is the most commonest deer species in India and Sri Lanka. It can be found in tall decidous forests, meadows, clearings of the sub-continent. It avoid dense forests, foothills of the Himalayas and mountainous terrain. Its basic social unit is a female and its fawns. Herds can be formed containing several does and fawns with some sub-adult males. Bachelor herds or all-male herds are also found although adult stags are often solitary animals. Mixed herds are also common if certain conditions are fulfilled (high density of quality forage, adequate habitat (open areas), low predator density, rutting period). Herds are quite fluid in composition. Axis stags are not territorial but are agressive and may fight one another during the rut for females especially if contestants are of equal size.
Height: 70-80 cm for the females, 85-95 cm for the males.
Weight: 45-60 kg for the females, 70-85 kg for the males exceptionally up to 110 kg.
Habitat: Clearings, meadows, dry forests.
Breeding: Gestation 231-235 days. Polyestrous 18-19 days. Sexual maturity (female): 10-14 mois. Weaning at 6 months.`
Food: Grazer mostly but may switch to browsing during the dry season. It feeds also on fruits, foliage and tubers. Axis often stand on their hind legs to feed from high foliage.
Predators: Axis are the main prey of almost all big predators including: tigers, leopards, dholes, wolves, muggers, Indian pythons and the occasional jackal. Bears and striped hyenas may take foals. Axis often associate with langurs to spot predators as the monkeys which are perched in trees have a better vision while the langurs can rely on the deer's sense of smell and fine hearing.
Best places to see it: Axis is found in all major Indian and Sri Lankan parks and reserves. It is maybe the only big mammal that you are sure to see in almost all dry zone parks.