Rusa Deer (Cervus timorensis)

rusastagRusa are closely related to the sambar, but smaller in stature (stags about 110cm at shoulder, weight about 140kg with hinds proportionately smaller (90cm, 80kg).

Coat colour is a uniform grey-brown, variable between individuals and season. The body hair is coarse and notably sparse by comparison with other deer. Antlers are typically three tined with the beams forming a characteristic lyre shape.

The original stock of rusa which reached New South Wales from New Caledonia between 1861 and 1885 was the Javan race – a smaller subspecies, the Moluccan rusa, is located on some of the offshore islands north of the mainland. Liberations were made in New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia with the surviving population centred around Sydney’s Royal National Park and its surroundings.

A tropical species, the rusa in Australia is gregarious and very vocal in communicating with others of its kind. The breeding season is said to be irregular with a peak in mating behaviour in July and August, during which time stags wallow extensively and exude a strong musky odour to attract hinds.

A feature of the rutting behaviour is the ‘roaring’ of the stags which also ‘decorate’ their antlers with clumps of grass in displays designed to intimidate their rivals.