The Vampire Deer

Vampire Deer - Siberian Musk Deer Doodlewash in watercolor asian deer Kashmir

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

Profile photo of Charlie O'Shields
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! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!
Published in By Charlie
52 Comments
  1. Teresa Robeson 1 year ago

    I have no words for the fact the people actually like the scent of deer musk. 😝 But your doodlewash is a beauty! Love how his eyes sparkle! ❤️

  2. Jill Kuhn 1 year ago

    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! 😝

    • Author

      Thanks Jill! 😃💕hehe… this was crazy one! But then quite a few have looked like imaginary animals! Lol… I’ve been loving that here and on IG people keep googling to see if I’m pulling their leg! 😉

      • Jill Kuhn 1 year ago

        That would be fun to do for April Fool’s Day – an imaginary animal! Hehe! 😃

      • Author

        ooooooo…. it would!!! hehe👍🏻😃

  3. mgshepard 1 year ago

    Reblogged this on mgshepard and commented:
    I will read this later but just the thought of this being a vampire I had to reblog .

  4. Kari 1 year ago

    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!

    • Author

      Lol… Thanks Kari! 😃💕I agree… I’m a really curious person, but I think I draw the line at tasting deer musk. Yeah… they just use the fangs to attack each other apparently. Musk deer dating is not for the faint of heart! hehe

  5. memadtwo 1 year ago

    Very dignified. And great job with the fur. I’ll take a miss on the musk though! (K)

  6. Carol 1 year ago

    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! 😉

    • Author

      Haha! Yeah… I figure it’s good to know everything about these creatures! Or at least more fun that way! Thanks Carol! 😃💕

  7. Sand Salt Moon 1 year ago

    Oh, my – a little scary and a lot wonderfully rendered

  8. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 1 year ago

    I imagine him telling the kids it’s time to settle down. Has that father figure sensibility. Great rendition, Charlie.

    • Author

      lol… yeah… I can see that too. And they better listen to dad as, well… he has fangs as all. Thanks Sharon! 😃💕

  9. Nancy 1 year ago

    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?

    • Author

      Thanks so much Nancy! 😃💕They’re smaller… they are apparently about 20 – 28 inches at the shoulder. Got all caught up in the musk description and forgot that bit! lol

      • Nancy 1 year ago

        Understandable..😊

  10. Teri C 1 year ago

    Beautifully painted Charlie.

  11. Jacob 1 year ago

    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? 😉

    • Author

      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!

      • Jacob 1 year ago

        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!

      • Author

        hehe… we’ll see…. just about to post it! 😉

  12. Sabiscuit 1 year ago

    Cool! And I want one.

    • Author

      hehe… really? fangs and all? Actually… I have kind of fallen in love with all of these weird creatures this month. Would make the strangest zoo ever!!

      • Sabiscuit 1 year ago

        Of course, I love the overbite. I think it’s adorable. Have a great weekend, Charlie.

      • Author

        Yeah… overbites are more adorable on animals… hehe… Hope you have a great weekend as well! 😃

  13. Jill Holmes 1 year ago

    Whaaahaaahaaa! Yeh! Who? Ugh!! I’m not sure I needed to know THAT little fact, Charlie! LOL (yes…I’m still laughing…)

    • Author

      You’re welcome! Hahaha! Yeah… I tend to favor the weirdest facts about these weird creatures. Makes live a little more fun! Thanks Jill! 😃💕

  14. Sharon Mann 1 year ago

    This musk deer looks a little like a wolf. Interesting facts Charlie and beautifully rendered.

    • Author

      Thanks Sharon! 😃💕The references were confusing on this guy as most of them had the wrong species name. And I think I made the nose a touch longer… hehe… but the wolf quality really brought out the fangs! lol

  15. Curious to the Max 1 year ago

    It’s front end is tusk
    The back end is musk
    M. moschiferus.
    No need to discuss
    It’s quite clear
    the rear is more dear
    I fear

    • Author

      Lol… well stated, Judy! I’m pretty sure I won’t be laying down my money on dear musk anytime soon, regardless of the value! 😉

  16. artandmoondreams 1 year ago

    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.

  17. Cute even with those vampire teeth, love the eyes…..pleased we don’t have smell technology yet!

    • Author

      Yeah… this is probably one of the cuter vampires I’ve seen! And apparently best smelling! lol Thanks, Rebecca! 😃💕

  18. Cathe 1 year ago

    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!

    • Author

      Thanks Cathe! 😃💕 I know?? Seriously… I would have never imagined learning about how it “tastes”! haha! So glad you liked this one!

  19. Jodi 1 year ago

    vegetarian vampire deer! I like LOL!

  20. The Leaf Diary 1 year ago

    I like those eyes! Nice.

  21. Very cool, Charlie, quite striking is this one! 😀

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