- A-Z Animals
Deer are even-toed hoofed ungulates that are found worldwide. They are similar in appearance to antelopes. However, the two differ in the permanence of their horns. Deer have antlers, which are shed once a year, after which they grow back, while antelopes have permanent horns.
The deer has had a huge cultural impact on history, playing a key role in literature, mythology, and heraldry. They also have economic value, being hunted both for their meat, called venison, and for sport.
There are many species of deer found in five continents, like the Reindeer in North America, the roe deer in Europe, the chital in Asia, the Barbary Stag in Africa, and the White-Tailed deer in South America.
Size: Length: 12.5 in – 8 ft 6 in (32 cm – 2.6 m)
Weight: 7 1⁄4 – 1800 lbs. (3.3 – 800 kg)
The smallest known species is the northern Pudu at 12 1⁄2–14 in (32–35 cm), and 71⁄4–131⁄4 lbs. (3.3–6 kg), and the largest is the moose at 8 ft 6 in (2.6 m) and 1800 lbs. (800 kg).
Antlers: Primarily, males are the only ones with antlers, though high testosterone levels may lead to certain females growing them. Only in reindeer do both sexes regularly grow antlers.
They develop as velvet structures and become stiff and bony eventually. After the mating season, deer begin to shed their antlers. The process takes place around December-January and can last for 2-3 weeks.
Teeth: Deer have a set of 32 teeth, except for the elk and reindeer, which have 34. Their teeth are developed to chew vegetation, having a powerful pad instead of upper incisors. Some of them, like the water deer and the muntjac, have enlarged upper canines.
Body and Coloration: Males are generally larger than females. Deer have long, slender legs and eyes with dilating pupils. The coat color ranges from red to brown, though some have a grayish tone like the elk. Certain species, like the chital and the fallow deer, have white spots over their brown coats.
Deer are common throughout the world except in Australia and Antarctica. The largest concentration of deer population is in the northern part of North America, including the Canadian Rocky Mountains and the Columbia Mountains. Other notable regions include the Arctic tundra, the Atlas mountains in the north of Africa, Asia Minor, the Caucasus Mountains, India’s Indo-Gangetic Plain Region, and Nepal’s Terai Region.
Though commonly associated with dense forests, deer are very adaptable and thrive in various habitats. These include mountain slopes (white-tailed deer and moose), tropical savanna (Eld’s deer), tundra (Caribou and elk), and wetlands (Sambar deer).
On average, males live for 3 years while females live longer at 6-7 years.
As browsing mammals, deer primarily feed on a diet of grasses, forbs, lichens, sedges, shrubs, and trees. Occasionally, on venturing into human habitations, they will eat food like hydrangeas, pumpkins, and roses.
They will try to increase their calorie intake during the winter by eating fruits and nuts.
Many predators hunt and consume deer as part of their diet. Some of them are alligators, bears, birds of prey, coyotes, hogs, lynxes, mountain lions, wolverines, and wolves.
Their mating season starts in August and continues to December. After a gestation period of 200-205 days, does give birth to one or two fawns.
Fawns are raised by their mothers, with no input from their fathers. The doe and her child stay together for a year, during which she nurses the fawns and keeps them clean to disguise their scent from predators.
For about a week after its birth, the fawns can start keeping up with their mothers as they graze. Before that, they remain hidden in the grass. Once old enough, the fawns will leave their mother, with the males never returning. The females may sometimes return with their own fawns to form a small herd.
Male deer reach sexual maturity at the age of two years while females do so much quicker, at about seven months.
As per the IUCN, no species of deer is endangered presently.
Deer have adapted well to human intrusion into their habitats, and most species are not in danger of extinction. But issues caused by climate change, such as loss of habitat, can lead to problems further down the line.
Yes, deer remain active even in rainy periods lasting for several days.
A baby deer is called a fawn.
Deer will sleep in large fields with plenty of foliage to hide them. They normally will change their bedding spots to avoid predators, however a safe spot will be reused multiple times.
Yes, they are unable to see the red-green color spectrum. Their vision remains confined to colors of short and medium wavelengths like blue and green.
A group of deer is a herd. They are also referred to as a bunch, a group, a mob, a parcel, or a rangale.
Surprisingly, deer do occasionally eat meat if the opportunity arises, but only if they can chew on them.
They are very agile creatures, reaching 35-40 miles per hour (56-64 km/h).
While reindeer are a species of deer, they have a few characteristics that set them apart. Reindeer are adapted to far colder climates than most other deer. Also, both male and female reindeer grow antlers.