Why Do Water Deer Have Fangs? Unraveling the Mystery

Why Do Water Deer Have Fangs?

Water deer, also known as Korean water deer or vampire deer, are fascinating creatures with a unique feature that sets them apart from other deer species – fangs. These long, protruding canine teeth can be quite surprising in appearance and may leave you wondering why these deer have such prominent fangs. In this article, we will explore the reasons behind this unusual adaptation.

The Purpose of Fangs

Fangs are typically associated with predators, such as lions or snakes, that use them for hunting and tearing flesh. So, what purpose do fangs serve in the case of water deer, which are herbivores?

Contrary to popular belief, the fangs of water deer are not used for hunting or tearing flesh. In fact, water deer primarily feed on vegetation, such as grasses, leaves, and aquatic plants. Their fangs are not a carnivorous adaptation but rather a display of sexual dimorphism.

Sexual Dimorphism

Sexual dimorphism refers to the physical differences between male and female individuals of the same species. In water deer, it is the males who possess the fangs, while females do not have them. This dimorphism is an important tool in courtship and male-male competition.

The fangs of water deer play a vital role during the mating season. Male deer use their fangs to establish dominance and compete against other males for access to females. They engage in aggressive behavior, such as locking fangs and pushing each other, to determine the strongest individual.

Defense and Intimidation

Aside from their role in courtship, the fangs of water deer also serve as a possible means of defense and intimidation. When threatened or confronted, a male deer may bare its fangs as a warning sign to other potential threats. The long canines, combined with aggressive posturing, can deter predators or rival males.

Ancient Evolutionary Remnants

Scientists believe that the fangs of water deer are remnants of ancient evolutionary adaptations. These adaptations might not serve any significant purpose today, but they might have been crucial for survival in the past.

During the evolutionary process, certain traits can become exaggerated due to sexual selection. In the case of water deer, the fangs likely evolved as a result of females finding males with longer canines more attractive. Over time, this preference could have led to the emergence and persistence of fangs in male water deer.

Frequently Asked Questions Of Why Do Water Deer Have Fangs? Unraveling The Mystery

Why Do Water Deer Have Fangs?

Water deer have fangs as a result of natural evolution and adaptation for survival and defense in their habitat.

How Do Water Deer Use Their Fangs?

Water deer use their fangs primarily for defense against predators and for fighting other males during mating season.

Are Water Deer Fangs Dangerous To Humans?

Water deer fangs are not typically dangerous to humans, as they are primarily used for self-defense and not aggression towards humans.

What Is The Purpose Of Water Deer Fangs?

The purpose of water deer fangs is to deter and fend off potential threats, ensuring the survival and safety of the water deer.


Water deer possess fangs not for hunting or feeding purposes but as a result of sexual dimorphism. These long canine teeth are used by male deer during courtship and male-male competition, as well as a means of defense and intimidation. While the fangs might not have a practical function in their present environment, they are believed to be remnants of ancient evolutionary adaptations. The unique appearance of water deer with their fangs makes them a truly remarkable and captivating species in the animal kingdom.

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