THE AMAZING DEER
Deer are the ruminant mammals forming the family Cervidae. The two main groups are the Cervinae, including the muntjac, the elk, the fallow deer and the chital, and the Capreolinae, including the reindeer, the roe deer and the moose. By the way, Deer are the only group of animals in the world to have antlers. Antlers are the fastest growing living tissue in the world!
- Type: Mammal
- Diet: Herbivore
- Life span: 15-20 years but dependent on species and location
- Size: 32cm – 2.1m (height), 85cm – 3.2m (length)
- Weight: 12-700 kg
- Habitat: Many different ecosystems
- Range: Worldwide except Antarctica
- Scientific name: Cervidae
Amazing Facts About the Deer
- There are over 60 different species of deer worldwide. Deer are present on all continents except Antarctica. They can live in a range of habitats, from mountainous areas to warm and wet rainforests. The Barbary red deer is the only species present in Africa
- A male deer is called a buck but some larger males are referred to as stags. A Female deer is called a doe or hind. A young deer is called a fawn. Bucks and does can be distinguished from each other by the presence of antlers. Female Caribou (Reindeer) are the only female deer which grow antlers
- All species of deer have antlers, with the exception of the Chinese water deer. Instead of antlers, they have long canine teeth which can be as long as 8cm!
- Each year, antlers fall off and regrow. As they regrow, they are covered in a furry coat called velvet. The velvet is rich in nerves and blood vessels, allowing the antlers to regrow quickly
- During the mating season, or ‘the rut’, bucks will use their antlers to fight over does. The winner is the buck who manages to overpower the other. Red deer can be heard roaring in the rut to attract females
- The length of pregnancy in deer varies according to size. Generally, the larger the species the longer the gestation. It is dependent on where a species lives as to when it will breed. Deer in tropical climates can breed all year round
When most deer are born, they have white spots which disappear as they mature. The spots help fawns to blend into their background, acting as camouflage
A fawn can normally walk within half an hour of being born. Fawns do not have a smell, helping them avoid predators
All species of deer have a four chamber stomach which allows them to chew the cud. This is a processes of partially chewing food, regurgitating it, and chewing it again to make it easier to digest.
- In winter, deer are less active in order to preserve energy as there is less food available
- Deer can jump up to 10ft high and are very good swimmers
- As deer eyes are on the side of their head, they have 310 degrees’ vision. This is much more than humans, who have 180 degree vision. Deer also have very good night vision which is particularly useful at dawn and dusk when they are most active
- Deer can have a homeland range which can span 30 miles. They move about depending on food availability
- The majority of deer are shades of light to medium brown. White stags are often described in myths and folklore but they also exist in real life! A white stag occurs when a deer has a condition called leucism which causes the hair and skin to lose its natural colour. When white stags are spotted, it is often not publicised to prevent poachers finding them as they are viewed as trophies which can sell for thousands of pounds
- The largest deer species was the Irish Giant Deer which went extinct 11,000 years ago. Reaching 7ft tall at the shoulder, the Irish Deer’s antlers could span 12ft, four times the width of a single bed!
Clancy's comment: A friend of mine, Johnny Coates, had a deer park here in Australia, and I used to take many guests to visit. As I entered his great property, I used to say, "This place is deer, but not expensive". Johnny taught me some staggering facts abut this truly amazing species.