Today’s creature has earned the colloquial name of Vampire Deer, but is actually a musk deer. This name refers to any of the seven species that make up the genus Moschus and the one shown here is M. moschiferus, or Siberian musk deer. This unusual animal looks like a cross between a kangaroo and a vampire, with its tusks that resemble fangs, which are used to fend off other males during mating season. Musk deer live mainly in forested and alpine scrub habitats in the mountains of southern Asia, notably the Himalayas. In fact, they are entirely Asian in their present distribution, since they became extinct in Europe.

Musk deer are herbivores, living in lovely forested environments, generally far from any humans. They eat mainly leaves, flowers, and grasses, with a bit of mosses and lichens thrown in. They are solitary animals, and maintain well-defined territories, which they scent mark with their caudal glands (no idea where there are located). Musk deer are generally shy, and either nocturnal, or coming out at twilight. Male musk deer have something that has been described as more valuable than gold which is a musk gland, situated in its rectal area.

Since ancient times, deer musk has been extensively used as a perfume fixative, incense material, and medicine. It is also still one of the most expensive animal products in the world. According to Wikipedia, “good deer musk is of a dark purplish color, dry, smooth and unctuous to the touch, and bitter in taste.” Yeah… take a moment to let that last bit sink in and wonder who the hell is eating musk out of a deer’s butt. At least it’s comforting to know that if you’re curious, there’s no longer a need to try it for yourself.

About the Doodlewash

M. Graham watercolors: Gamboge, Burnt Sienna, Ultramarine Blue, Neutral Tint and Titanium White Gouache. Lamy Safari Al Star pen with Platinum Carbon sepia ink in a 5″ x 8″ 140 lb. (300 gsm) Pentalic Aqua Journal

Posted by:Charlie O'Shields (doodlewash)

Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world!

52 replies on “The Vampire Deer

  1. This looks like it could be one of my imaginary animals! Lol! 😜 I wonder if they get moss stuck in those fangs? Pretty scary looking animal. I enjoyed your humor, Charlie! Musk oil, Yuck! 😝

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting musk info! And I’d never be curious enough to taste it.. Lol. Interesting that they have those fangs considering they are herbivores! Great doodlewash, Charlie!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great painting, Charlie. What an interesting animal. Those fangs would surely keep me far away from it! You are the best at schooling us on all the facts of these uncommon animals, and I do mean ALL the facts! 😉

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  4. I will never think of musk the same way again. Thanks, Charlie. 😳 Your drawing is excellent though, especially the eyes,as always. Wondering if these guys are about the same size as an average deer? Any idea?

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  5. He’s certainly challenging my mind’s image of the deer! Imagine if you were expecting a pretty deer and ran into that, with those ominous fangs and ears which are curious, to say the least… quite unsettling! But I suppose it is these features that make him charming… ish. Your lovely job on the eyes makes him appear much more friendly once accustomed! I almost forget completely about the scary fangs… maybe that’s how he wants it to go!

    Is our next uncommon creature going to be the rarest and most impressive of all: the Charlie O’Shields?😉

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    1. Yeah…the eyes are just a clever ruse so you’ll get close and then BAM! out with the fangs! Sorry in advance for the nightmares. hehe… Thanks so much Jacob! Oh yeah… it’s selfie day isn’t it? hmmm… I’m just not a human portrait guy. Perhaps there’s a weird creature that just looks a bit like me! haha!

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      1. No nightmares that I can recall, thankfully. He’ll have to try harder! And I should know this portrait aversion by now I suppose; still, I’ll bear in mind the day when tonight’s edition comes in! Let’s hope it’s something nice!

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  6. Will certainly pause the next time someone talks about musk scented cologne, may even laugh. Love your painting, absolutely adorable, love the texture of the fur, glistening eyes and elegant portrait. Definitely want them at the next tea party.

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  7. Okay let’s just put it out there…”a bitter taste”?!?
    What an interesting deer. The fangs are so odd and worthy of a double, triple take. Beautiful rendering and certainly a very educational post! Well done Charlie!

    Liked by 1 person

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