Shy and secretive during the day when it hides in dense cover, at night the Himalayan musk deer emerges to feed in more open habitats. This species prefers to select the leaves of trees and shrubs with a high protein and low fibre content, but during the winter it may subsist on poorer quality lichens, although it may climb small trees to feed upon leaves that would otherwise be out of reach (6) (8).
The Himalayan musk deer is a fairly sedentary species, occupying a small home range of up to 22 hectares. The males are fiercely territorial, only allowing females to enter their range. Territories are marked by carefully placed defecation sites and strong-smelling secretions, which are rubbed onto the surrounding vegetation. Weaker males will not attempt to enter the territory of a stronger male, but on occasions that they do, fighting may ensue (6) (7) (8).
During the breeding season, the male produces musk, which mixed with its urine, has a pink colour and strong smell that is believed to stimulate the female to begin oestrus (7) (8). From November through to early July, the males compete in sparring competitions for females, with a single young born in May or June, after a gestation period of some 178 to 198 days. For the first two months after birth, the young fawn hides in the undergrowth and suckles from the mother. The suckling behaviour of musk deer is unusual; while the fawn suckles, the mother lifts her hind leg, which the fawn touches with its foreleg, a gesture that is sometimes seen in other hoofed mammals during courtship (7). The fawn grows rapidly, becoming fully independent after six months. Maturity is typically reached after 18 months, although the female can breed after its first year, with a life-expectancy of up to 20 years (5) (6) (7) (8).