Deer is a mammal and a wild animal, which belongs to a family named “Cervidae”. Besides, “Artiodactyla” is the order, which includes mammals with two small and two large toe hooves on each foot.
There are more than 50 species of deer including reindeer, white-tailed deer, elk, red deer, moose, etc. Originally, deer belong to continents including North America, Asia, South America, Northern Africa, and Europe.
Types of Deer
Although there are numerous types of deer, discussed below are the most widely known species. In this section, we have tried to offer a comprehensive description of each type.
White-Tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus)
White-tailed deer or also referred to as Virginia deer are quite common in America. They are named as white-tailed since they have white hair on their tail. While fleeing, the tail flares like a signaling flag.
Both South and North America white-tailed deer belong to one type of species. However, there are certain differences between them. The large males are up to 106 cm (42 inches) and they usually weigh 180 kg approx.
The color of white-tailed deer changes with the weather. It tends to be bright reddish during summer and duller grayish-brown during winter. This type of deer is experienced enough to exploit disrupted forests.
The white-tailed is among the oldest species of deer, as they date back to the Ice Ages. The population has multiplied exceptionally since the last glaciation. White-tailed deer can run at high speeds.
It has developed outstanding hiding skills. This feature has helped these species to survive predators in the early stages of their population growth.
The mating season starts in November and December. During this period, most courtship act involves a lot of running. The males try to match the speed of females.
However, the mating is unceremonious and ends quickly. The male mates for a day and continue its search for another female. Before giving birth to their offspring, females show some sort of territorial behavior.
The 200 days gestation period is common, which usually results in the birth of twins. The mating may continue to happen around the year in the tropics. Mothers raise their daughters until they become adults.
White-tailed deer start to live apart during summer. They may form herds in the winter. The preferred food includes twigs, leaves, nuts, and fruits. This species can be a danger for cultivated vegetation like orchards and crop fields.
Red Deer (Cervus elaphus)
Red deer is one of the most popular species of deer. It is native to Europe, North America, northwestern Africa, and Asia. The red deer have been hunted for food and sports.
This type of deer is large and stands about 1.2 meters. It has a reddish-brown coat, which darkens to grayish-brown during winter. The underparts and rump areas are lighter.
It was primarily found in the woodlands. This species usually prefer to live in sexually segregated herds. However, male and female herds stay together during the breeding season.
Red deer feed on grasses and dwarf shrubs such as bilberry and heather. They can go for tree shoots when the other types of foods are scarce. However, red deer don’t leave a chance to graze in the crop fields.
This results in a conflict between deer and farmers. By destroying crops, red deer cause economic damage. Hence, the population of red deer requires to be managed carefully.
The rut or mating season for red deer begins at the end of September and continues till November. Deer usually come back to the home range and compete with each other.
The dominance is exhibited through various means including parallel walks and roaring. Although the male becomes sexually mature at two years of age, they can get a chance to mate after they are five years old.
In the wild, females give birth to a single calf. The gestation period is eight-month. Normally, red deer live solitarily. The only group they make consists of a mother and her calf.
The large single-sex groups can gather only during rut. In the mountains of Scotland, red deer spend the day while roaming on the open hills. They descend to the plain areas after the sunset.
Chinese Water Deer (Hydropotes inermis)
Chinese water deer is a relatively small deer found in Asia. It belongs to the river bottoms located in Korea and China. This is the only species of deer where males don’t have antlers.
On the contrary, they have long and curved upper canine teeth. These canines stay outside the mouth and can exceed 5 cm in length. Another distinctive feature of this deer is the presence of inguinal glands.
The water deer is identical to the extinct species of primitive deer, which lacked antlers. However, the ancestors of this deer used to have antlers, which were lost during evolution.
The males are 50 cm tall and weigh up to 13 kg. The coat has a uniform color that is yellowish-brown. The tail of Chinese water deer is very short. Besides, there is no rump patch. The availability of thick and coarse coat is an adaptation to survive under the harsh winters.
These species avoid predators by hiding and running at a fast pace. Males defend their respective territory with help of their tusks. Furthermore, this deer loves lush vegetation that is normally seen around the river bottoms.
The Chinese water deer continue to breed from November to February. The female gives birth to several offspring at a time. The fawns are small in size and weigh no more than 1 kg.
Musk Deer (Moschus moschiferus)
Musk deer is another small and compact species of deer. Since it is a shy animal, it likes to live solitary. The habitat of musk deer is the mountains of the Himalayas and Siberia.
The tail is short, which the ears are relatively large. They lack antlers but have a gall bladder. The coat is grayish-brown. The musk can survive in cold habitats due to its coarse, thick hair.
Musk deer have long hind legs. They are mostly active during the night. The different species of musk include:
- Alpine musk deer
- Back musk deer
- Siberian musk deer
It has a height of 50–60 cm. The male possesses long canine teeth that grow downward. It also has a musk pod, which is a musk-producing organ located on the abdomen.
The musk obtained from this organ is highly valuable. It is widely used in expensive perfumes and soaps. This deer was used to hunt down for musk. This resulted in the extinction of a large part of their population.
Chital (Cervus axis)
Also known as Spotted Deer, the Chital is an Asian species. It is found in the forests and grasslands of Sri Lanka and India. They live in herds with a number 100 or more.
The average height of a Chital ranges from 90–95 cm. The reddish-brown coat has visible spots. The antlers of male chital can reach up to 100 cm and are normally three-tined.
Chital deer are seen active in the morning. In the afternoon, they rest under the shades to avoid the mid-day heat. Herds will stay and feed under trees. This gives them the advantages of feeding on the dropped fruits.
The population density is usually 20-50 deer per km square. However, it can reach up to 200 deer per km square in favorable habitats. Chital deer are mostly seen in the forests during hot and dry weather.
However, they tend to migrate to the grasslands during the monsoon season. The home territory for a female can stretch up to 1.4 km square. This area is larger for males, which covers usually 2 km square.
Although chital are social animals, their herds don’t last for long. The individual chital tends to shift from one group to another. This increases or decreases the number of individuals in the group.
Chital are vigilant creatures. Upon sensing danger, they stamp their front legs and utter a shrill sound. The others also pay attention to the alarm calls. While fleeing away from predators, the tail flares in the air.
Ruminant Deer (suborder Ruminantia)
The Ruminant deer belongs to the order Artiodactyla, which relates this species to giraffes, pronghorns, deer, okapis, chevrotains, cattle, goats, sheep, and antelopes.
In most cases, ruminants contain a four-chambered stomach. They also have two-toed feet. However, their upper incisors are absent or reduced to their minimum size.
Ruminants are quick eaters, yet they are not capable of digesting grasses or foliage. Hence, digestion occurs at different stages. The four-chambered stomach is there to help during the digestion process.
To start with, the ingested food enters into the first chamber where it softens. This chamber is known as the rumen. After that, ruminant deer regurgitate the cud and chew it to break down the cellulose content.
The process continues until the food reaches the fourth stomach. This completes the final stage of digestion.
Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus)
Mule deer is a medium-sized deer found in Western North America. It has large ears, which is the reason why they are called a mule. This species also has highly visible pelage markings.
Besides, large antlers and scent glands are also present. The large mule deer can weigh up to 95 kg. The black-tailed and mule deer belong to the same species, but the DNA traits of a mule are closely related to white-tailed deer.
Hence, it can be predicted that mule deer is a recent breed. This species is inquisitive and calm. They quickly adapt to human habitations. This gives them protection from predators.
When in the wild, mule deer frequently visit forests. However, their preferred habitat is an open and rugged space. When sensing danger, they flee by making high leaps and long jumps.
They have large eyes and ears, which help them to identify predators from far away. During winter, both males and females live together in common herds. However, they tend to segregate during spring.
Mule deer happen to be selective eaters. They choose the most nutritious parts of the forage. In some instances, they can also consume slightly rotten plants and dry leaves.
In order to support their growing body, young mules are always in search of habitats with rich and nutritious food. It also helps them to strengthen their antler.
Some species of mule deer perform long migrations during summer and winter. The males gather in the early winter to exhibit friendly antler fights. After that, they join the female herd for the rut.
Barasingha (Cervus duvauceli)
Also known as swamp deer, the barasingha is a truly graceful deer. This species is found in abundance in open grasslands and forests of Nepal and India. With a height of 1.1 m, it is a tall animal.
The color of barasingha’s coat is either reddish or yellowish-brown. Usually, small spots are also visible on their body. The male has distinctively large antlers with almost six numbers of tine on each side.
The three subspecies of Barasingha include:
- Wetland Barasinghas
- Hard-ground Barasinghas
- Eastern Barasinghas
Previously, this species used to widely spread in far fetch areas. At present, the barasingha is available in scattered areas. Since this is a highly endangered species, they are also found in reserves and national parks.
The preferred habitat for barasingha is the tall grassland. Besides, this species also love to graze on reed beds of floodplains. Nevertheless, barasinghas are also seen in mangroves and deciduous forests.
The diet of barasinghas consists of grass and leaves. The species living in the wetland have adapted to the aquatic plants. They are not picky eaters and feed on the available options.
This deer species is highly social. Hence, barasinghas live into single-sex herds consisting of 10-20 individuals. In addition, the group members tend to be of the same age.
Occasionally, both male and female barasinghas live together in a single herd. A single female normally leads such groups. The other females of the herd continue to follow her while the males remain at the end.
However, the leading females don’t show any kind of dominant behavior over other group individuals. Barasinghas are more active during the day. In some cases, they continue to graze even in the evenings.
The bucks or male barasinghas are less loyal to the groups. This suggests they continue to move from one group to another.
Barasinghas exhibit a polygynous breeding behavior. In this type of mating system, only the dominant male mates the females in the group.
The males have to struggle for their mating rights and dominance. They engage in multiple fights and competitions during their lives. Some of these fights may also prove fatal.
The population of barasinghas has suffered due to a wide range of reasons. The most common cause is the destruction of their natural habitat. This is a result of massive deforestation.
At present, these animals are also hunted for their valuable horns. Besides, the spread of disease from domestic cattle is also threatening the population of barasingha.
The latter factor has also caused the substantial loss by increasing the mortality rate of this species. According to the Red List published by IUCN, the estimated overall population of the barasinghas is 3,500 to 5,100 animals approximately.
·Head and body length: 13-30 cm
·Weight: 50-60 kg
Bawean deer love to live in smaller groups of 4-5 animals. This is mostly two males, a female, and her in fact. The critically endangered deer species is native to Indonesia’s Bawean island, especially around the woodlands and dense undergrowth.
Its physical traits include shorter legs with a dark brown coat. Besides that, it also comes with whitish markings underneath its throat and chin. This deer’s diet mainly consists of leaves and grass. They are preyed on by pythons.
·Head and body length: 70-140 cm
Several species of deer fall under the Mazama genus. However, almost all of them have similar characteristics. Brocket deer is native to the Yucatan Peninsula as well as Central and South America.
Brocket Deer have red-brown coats with a whitish color under their legs and tails. This solitary animal also stays under the radar but you will always find it under dense vegetation. Its diet is quite herbivorous and you will find it mostly eating leaves.
- Head and body length: 150-180 cm
- Weight: up to 150 kg
Eld’ deer actually has many names including Cervus eldi and Thamin Deer. The endangered species that’s native to southern Asia prefers to live in forested areas, plains, and lowland valleys. Generally, it tends to avoid coastal areas and dense forests.
Its physique is often described as elegant and graceful. The long thin legs and addition to a fine long body with a large head make this animal regal. Its coat often changes depending on the season. For instance, it turns reddish-brown in summer and dark brown during winter. They mainly feed on forbs and grass.
·Head and body length: 140-190 cm
·Weight: 25-130 kg
It’s a highly adaptive creature that can survive in regions with little or frequent rainfall. Besides that, it can thrive in quite hot areas as well as those that are cold. Fallow Deer is a European native species that often live in meadows, mixed forests, woodlands, deciduous forests, and marshes.
In terms of appearance, you will find it in ginger-brown color with some white spots on its back. However, some of these animals don’t have white spots. This is a plant-eater that feeds mostly on leaves and shrubs.
·Head and body length: up to 88 cm
·Weight: 18-21 kg
Fea’s muntjac is mainly found in China’s mountainous forests that consist of coniferous, shrubs, and broad-leaf plants. Its appearance is similar to those of other Muntjac species with a dark brown coat and paler under-parts. In addition to that, its lower legs are distinctly black. The diurnal animal that loves to live in solitary habitats normally feeds on low-growing leaves, grasses, as well as tender shoots.
·Head and body length: 110-130 cm
·Weight: 30-40 kg
This deer species has a yellowish-brown coat with a thick and dense undercoat. Its body is quite long and thin with noticeably high legs. On its back, there is a small whorl of hair while its underparts feature a whitish color.
This species habitat features water and hills. You will find most of them on Pantanal wetlands though. Note that this deer is native to South America’s grasslands. However, its diet consists of more forbs i.e., flowering and broad-leafed plants that have soft stems. Additionally, it also loves to feed on leaves, twigs, and shoots.
Pere David Deer
·Head and body length: 140-230 cm
·Weight: up to 160 kg for females and up to 200 kg for males
Pere David deer almost got completely extinct due to the excessive hunting that was happening in China at the end of the 19th century. However, it was saved due to the few specimens that had been bought and taken to Europe. It’s native to China where there are about 700 currently. This creature loves to inhabit coastal marshes, grasslands, river valleys, and reed beds.
Its appearance is characterized by significantly heavy legs with broad hooves. Its coat is usually reddish-brown in summer but it turns grayish-brown in winter. Pere David’s diet mainly consists of grasses but it often supplements it with aquatic plants in summer.
Persian Fallow Deer
- Head and body length: 130-240 cm
- Weight: 60-100 kg
This is a rare middle-eastern deer species that are commonly found in Israeli and Iran’s ranges. Persian Fallow is also known as the Mesopotamian Fallow. Its also considered to be the European Fallow’s subspecies since both of them have an almost similar appearance.
Persian Fallow resembles a fawn thanks to its white spots that normally cover its dark chestnut coat. The males have distinctly flattened antlers that make them beautiful.
Generally, this type of deer has extremely powerful legs hence it’s a fast runner. The grazing herbivore’s diet consists of 60% grass in addition to nuts and leaves.
·Head and body length: 100-150 cm
·Weight: 40-60 kg
Coming from the Rusa genus, Philippine deer usually thrives in a terrestrial environment. You will find it foraging in grasslands in primary and secondary forests. But to excessive hunting, they often move uphill to hid.
The philippine deer is a nocturnal animal that feeds mainly at night. You will find it resting in the thickets of dense forests during the day. Besides that, it feeds in groups and its diet consists of fallen fruit, grasses, berries, and leaves.
Philippine Spotted Deer
·Head and body length: 200 cm
Also known as Alfred’s deer, this species is native to the Philippines’ Negros and Panay’s Visayan Islands. This vulnerable deer species generally has a brown coat with a white tail underside.
It generally prefers low grasslands bordering the perimeter of islands. However, it’s quite adaptive and can move up the mountain ranges to evade hunting. The creature feeds mostly on buds, grasses, and leaves.
·Head and body length: 90-110 cm
Reeves muntjac is native to southeastern China and Taiwan. China, for instance, has lots of rocky fields in Yunnan and Gansu where you can find this animal in large numbers. Iit loves woodlands that consist of oak and pine tree.
This is one of the biggest species of Muntjac deer and it normally has a dark brown coat. The coat tends to appear longer and scruffier in cold months but shorter and sleeker in hot months. Its underparts are usually creamy white. This is an omnivorous creature and as a result, it tends to feed on succulent shoots, berries, nuts, grasses, and herbs.
·Head and body length: 185-220 cm
·Weight: 40-100 kg for females and 70-150kg for males
This species is mainly found in high latitude areas. Reindeer, also known as the Arctic tundra, is native to the arctic, tundra, boreal, sub-arctic, and mountain ranges of Northern Europe. It mostly has a grey-brown fur that gets darker in summer and turns to a lighter color in winter.
With its big feet, the deer can comfortably across soft grounds. Note that among the deer species, reindeer have the biggest and heaviest antlers. Its native habitat makes it an herbivore that only feeds on vegetation. So, its diet consists of grasses, ferns, herbs, shoots, leaves, fungi, and mosses.
·Head and body length: 95-135 cm
·Weight: 18-29 kg
Roe is a slender and medium-sized deer with short antlers minus a tail. It commonly has a brown color that often changes depending on the climatic conditions. During summer, its coat usually turns to reddish color and dark grey in winter. Besides that, its rump usually has a pale patch.
It’s a species that does well in a mixed countryside environment. This includes grassland, farmland, heathland, and woodland. As a result, Roe normally eats buds and leaves from shrubs and trees. Its diet also consists of farmland, heathland heathers, grasses, and ferns.
·Head and body length: 130-210 cm
·Weight: 50-115 kg
A Rusa deer is also known as Sunda Sambar. It’s an attractive deer species that’s native to the isles of Indonesia. However, it’s highly adaptable and that’s why it has been introduced to several locations in the southern hemisphere.
This species has a distinct set of large ears in addition to light hair tufts located above its eyebrows. In addition to that, you can distinguish it by the big antlers that appear relatively large to the body size.
Its greyish-brown coat usually appears coarse. Rusa deer’s diet is just like the other types of deer. It mostly feeds on leaves, grass, and fallen fruits.
- Head and body length: 110-166 cm
- Weight: 40-70 kg
There is no doubt that the sika deer has quite a beautiful animal with attractive physical characteristics. its color ranges from reddish-brown during summer to black or dark brown in winter. Besides that, it has noticeable white spots found on its back with a white rump. Males of this deer species have narrow antlers in addition to dark and shaggy manes.
It’s native to East Asia and that’s why sometimes it’s termed as the Japanese Deer. Its beautiful coat has also earned it the name Spotted Deer. While Sika Deer could be found in Russia and Vietnam in the past, their population has significantly declined in these areas.
Its diet mainly includes fallen leaves, marsh grasses, fungi, trees, ground ferns, corns, poison ivy, and myrtle bushes.
South Andean Deer
·Head and body length: 140 -160 cm
·Weight: 45-65 kg
South Andean deer thrives in a variety of habitats. You can find it in open periglacial scrubland, some low bluffs, upland forests, as well as other rocky areas. The endangered deer species is native to the Chilean and Argentinian Andes Mountain ranges.
In terms of appearance, this dear closely resembles the North Andean type. Well, this is because they are closely related. The well-adapted animal has a brown to greyish-brown coat that tapers to whitish undersides. Besides that, its throat normally has a white marking. Its long coat of curled hairs usually protects from high moisture content and extreme cold.
A research study was done on this deer species established that the males and juveniles mostly prefer the periglacial grassland. But generally, this species prefers to feed on plants and shrubs.
·Head and body length: 110-160 cm
·Weight: 17-50 kg
Tufted is a small deer species that has a distinctive tuft of black hair on its forehead. Its body consists of deep chocolate-brown color on its upper parts while the underparts have white color. It’s worth noting that its coat consists of coarse hairs that resemble spines. As a result, it normally has a shaggy appearance.
Tufted deer love high and damp forests that are above sea level and also close to the tree line. You are likely to find it more in evergreen and deciduous forests that have extensive understory in addition to a nearby freshwater supply.
Due to its native habitat, a tufted deer will most likely feed on vegetation such as twigs, leaves, grasses, and fruits. It doesn’t have the front teeth i.e., incisors in its upper jaw and hats because it has to clip on leaves and grass. According to IUCN, tufted deer is classified as near-threatened.
Indian Hog Deer
·Head and body length: 100-115 cm
·Weight: 50-110 kg
It’s a small type of deer that’s native to Pakistan’s Indo-Gangetic Plan as well as Nepal, northern, and Bangladesh. This species is built as a creeper with a relatively short leg. Generally, its body is lower on the front compared to the back.
The deer’s face is short with a wedge-like shape. Its coat is brown with a reddish or yellowish tinge. However, its appearance may sometimes feature some speckles with hairs that have white tips.
This deer normally feeds nocturnally and it’s both a grazer and browser. However, it prefers to graze and feeds on typical foods such as leaves, grasses, and occasionally some fruits.
·Head-body length: 70-80 cm
·Weight: 15-20 kg
It looks like just other Muntjac deer species. Muntjac deer is a small delicate animal with a slender body and short legs. One of its distinct features is bony facial ridges. Its coat is made up of short and soft hairs with a coat that ranges from dark brown to greyish-color. It has large upper canine teeth that look like short tusks.
Indian Muntjac’s habitat normally includes rainforests with dense vegetation and monsoon forests. Generally, this deer species likes to live close to water sources. It’s normally classified as an omnivore that’s both a grazer and browser. Its diet consists of grasses, herbs, sprouts, bird eggs, twigs, small warm-blooded animals, and tender shoots among others.
Indian Sambar Deer
·Head and body length: 170-270 cm
·Weight: 150-300 kg
This is a large deer that’s native to the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, and South China. It is listed as one of the most vulnerable deer species since 2008 by the IUCN Red List. Over the years, its population has significantly declined due to industrial habitat exploitation, severe hunting, and local insurgency.
It has a strong build with a long and thick dark brown coat. Males noticeably have a thick mane around the neck and their antlers are generally impressive.
Indian Sambar loves damp woodlands and that’s why you are likely to find this type of deer in woodland swamps and marshes. Sambar normally feeds on a wide range of vegetation. This includes water plants, grasses, foliage, and browse.
·Head and body length: 145-200 cm
·Weight: 100-120 kg
Just like its name suggests, Marsh Deer only lives in marsh areas. It’s endemic to the regions of Chaco and Pantanal where water levels are usually less than 70 cm deep. The marshy environment has made them swift swimmers.
The herbivorous animal feeds mostly on aquatic plants. You will find it mainly enjoying water-based shrubs and flowers that are found in floating mats and swampy areas. However, this deer is quite adaptive and it normally changes its diet during the rainy and dry seasons.
·Head and body length: 45 – 52 cm
·Weight: 10-16 kg
Out of all the UK’s deer, Muntjac is the smallest. However, males are generally larger than females. Muntjac deer is quite distinct thanks to its light red-brown fur coupled with a stomach that has a creamy white color. In addition to that, it has black facial markings with the males having V-shaped markings while females have diamond-shaped markings.
Its commonly found in southeast England but can also thrive in any parkland, woodland, and sometimes gardens. This deer is a notorious browser that feeds on shoots, herbs, fungi, nuts, berries, and trees.
·Head and body length: 60-80 cm
·Weight: 8-10 kg
It’s categorized as the smallest type of deer in the world. it’s native to the Andes Mountains in Columbia and Ecuador. This type of deer has a compact and rounded body with thin delicate legs. Its tail is quite short with shorter antlers that are spike-like.
Northern Pudu has a dark brown coat that’s quite thick and dense. This offers good protection against that harsh element of weather found mostly in its habitat.
Due to its small size, it normally stands on its hind legs to reach tree branches and stumps for foliage. This deer’s diet is mainly including ferns, buds, tree bark, herbs, and shrubs.
·Head and body length: 90 cm
·Weight: 10-13 kg
While Pudus are the smallest type of deer, the Southern Pudu is slightly larger in size than the Northern Pudu. It’s native to South America, especially the south-western sides of Argentina and southern Chile.
It has a short and glossy coat that’s usually covered with a dark brown or sometimes reddish-brown color. Its underparts and legs are slightly lighter though.
Since this deer usually inhabits temperate rainforests and prefers dense bamboo thickets and under bushes, it mostly feeds on nuts, fruits, fungi, and berries. However, its conservation status is considered to be near-threatened.
Moose (Alces alces)
Moose is the largest deer that belongs to the Cervidae family. They have a striking appearance due to their excessive size. The black color, fat antlers, and long legs give them a bull’s look.
The name comes from the North American word “Moosh” which means ‘stripper and eater of the bark’. They are also known as elk in Europe.
Apart from differences depending on geographical reasons, moose deer are further differentiated due to their features, antlers, size, and other characteristics.
The difference in size is a result of the adaptations of this species to local conditions. The largest recorded moose are found in Siberia and Alaska. They weigh up to 600 kg and are 2 meters tall.
On the contrary, the smallest moose lives in the southern areas of Manchuria and Wyoming. These moose weigh up to 350 kg and are 1.5 meters tall.
Generally, moose feed on deciduous shrubs. They have a passion for minerals, which helps to strengthen their body structure. During winter, they consume conifers like yew and fir.
Within areas with deep snow, moose tend to create a mechanism of trails known as “moose yard”. In summer, they feed largely on aquatic vegetation.
They have a distinctively large muzzle, which is a high-performance feeding organ. It helps moose deer to grab large parts of aquatic plants that are found in streams and shallow lakes.
Moose deer are experienced divers and they can stay underwater for 50 seconds while feeding on aquatic vegetation. Even the baby moose or calves are perfect swimmers.
Moose are strong and bold, which gives them a reason to defend themselves. Even large carnivores can find it hard to prey on moose.
When raising their calves, female moose deer have to encounter black and grizzly bears. During late winters, moose try to defend themselves against packs of wolves.
Heavy snow makes it difficult for the moose to flee. Hence, they choose tough ground with a minimum amount of snow for easy maneuverability.
Below is the classification of deer:
Size and Features of Deer
Deer have a distinctive character, which makes them distinguishable from the other species of ruminants. This feature is the presence of antlers. These usually originate from the head and don’t have Keratin that is present in the horns of other animals.
The only species without antlers is the Chinese water deer. On the contrary, this type of deer possesses two long canine teeth. These are used to attract mates during mating seasons.
The size of deer varies depending on their species. Southern Pudu is the smallest deer, which weighs about 20 lbs. This particular deer is only 14 inches tall, which makes it an adorable species.
On the other hand, moose is the largest deer. The length of moose can reach up to 6.5 feet. It weighs about 1,800 lbs. The moose is a powerful animal with aggressive behavior.
Deer are available in a wide range of colors. They have multiple shades of brown including dark and very light brown. The fawns also have a brown color but with white spots. This helps allows them to camouflage.
There are four stomachs in a deer. The one is the main stomach while the other three are referred to as the ‘false stomachs’. The initial digestion system works similarly to cows. First, they chew the cud, then digest.
Deer don’t have a gall bladder. The female deer has four teats. Deer lack vulval, rectal, or preputal glands. However, they may contain scent glands located on their legs.
- Pedal glands
Deer can survive in a variety of ecosystems. They can be found in rain forests, deciduous forests, grasslands, wetlands, mountains, and arid scrublands. In some cases, deer can comfortably adjust themselves in an urban setting.
Normally, the preferred environment for deer mainly consists of green areas. Nevertheless, a few species can even survive in a rough and dry environment.
Deer also love woodland terrains. This is the reason why they have robust legs. Besides, their bodies are flexible and compact. As a result, they can also survive in tough environments.
At present, deer are facing a lot of habitat challenges. This is the major cause of their death. Even in this situation, deer can live for 10 to 25 years in the wild.
Since deer are herbivorous, they largely depend on plants, trees, grass, and fruits for meeting their nutritional needs. Talking about the regular diet of a deer, it consists of grass, leaves, and small shrubs.
These specialized herbivores have a large and complex digestive system. Deer show less reliance on the coarse-fibred grasses. This is so, they don’t have specialized grazing skills as exhibited by bovids.
On the contrary, deer are highly selective. They prefer to feed on soft and young plants, herbs, grasses, foliage, lichens, and fruits. This type of diet contains high protein but low fiber.
Deer live in herds, which suggests that they follow a common social behavior that we normally see in other animals. There are a few species where there is segregation between herds depending on the sex.
The responsibility to lead the herd is on the dominant male or a female in the case of segregated herds. Hence, there are instances where females lead their herd.
Generally, deer are active during the day. A few of the species are active even at the time of sunrise and after sunset. During the day, they continue to forage for food.
Different names for deer
The most common name for the male deer is the buck. Large and stronger males are sometimes called stags. However, the bucks are deer species with antlers. The female deer is referred to as a doe while the baby deer is called a fawn.
Predators of deer and how they protect themselves
Numerous predators like to hunt deer. Hence, it is essential for them to learn the various skills to defend themselves. Before discussing the methods deer use to save themselves from predators, it would be appropriate to list their common predators.
Here are the animals that are in a habit of hunting the deer:
- Mountain lions
Deer can protect themselves in numerous ways. The first line of defense is camouflage. They have perfect skills to hide from predators.
In addition to hiding, deer can run extremely fast. They are capable of running at a speed of up to 30 miles/hour. They can jump as high as 5 feet. The length of their jump can be as long as 30 feet.
In most cases, predators fail to catch up with the speed of the deer. Hence, fleeing is the most important defense method.
Besides, deer are good swimmers. So, they can get away by swimming through the rivers, streams, or any other water body.
The breeding or reproduction season of deer is among the most interesting cycles in nature. Especially, this is a challenging time in the life of a male deer. The fight for dominance prevails during the whole year, yet it is at its peak during mating season.
In general, deer mate by following a seasonal pattern. Nevertheless, different species of deer react differently to the seasonal changes. In order to understand the mating procedure, it is essential to learn about their behavior patterns.
The breeding time of deer depends on the region where they live. For instance, deer belonging to temperate areas prefer to breed during early winter.
Deer living in tropical climates don’t have a specific mating season. Whereas, the deer belonging to areas under low latitudes usually breed in early summer.
The gestation period lasts from 180 to 240 days. This period is longer for southern and northern white-tailed deer, which is approximately 193 to 205 days.
Deer normally give birth to one to three offspring at a time. The young deer is popularly known as a fawn. The weaning period is five months. Deer mature after attaining a particular age.
Most species of deer mate when the temperatures are relatively cooler. Especially, early fall is the most preferred time for mating. For males, the change in weather encourages a surge in the search for testosterone.
Similarly, the seasonal changes also stimulate the female deer to start estrus. In a few areas of the world such as the tropics, there is no specific mating season for deer.
Mating Season Depending on the Type of Deer
Discussed below are the different breeding patterns that various species of deer do exhibit.
This type of deer is among the most widespread species of deer. They are usually found in America, Europe, and Africa. The male and female don’t mate except during the mating season.
The reason being is the solitary behavior of red deer. It is in the month of October that both the sexes start to live together and interact. Red deer males don’t fight each other with their antlers.
On the contrary, they utter roars during the rut to seek the attention of females. The fawn that is conceived during this mating season are born during late spring.
Whitetail deer can stay in heat more than once a year. Hence, they are referred to as polyestrous. Females are in heat during November and the cycle lasts for 24 hours.
The mating season for whitetail deer lasts from October to November. However, the whitetail deer living in South America will not start mating until January or early February.
When a female doesn’t mate during the first cycle, she will enter the second cycle after a month. The fawns are born during the late spring. The gestation period is 200 days approximately.
Reindeer prefer to live in cold climates. Hence, they are normally found across the Arctic. The breeding or mating season for reindeer starts from the first weeks of September. The mating season can last for one month.
During a few circumstances when reindeer are living in the harshest climate, they will start mating earlier. This allows them to meet their nutritional needs before the food becomes scarce. The gestation period can last for seven months.
This type of deer species usually roams in the western areas of the United States. They are also seen in the desert areas. The females are polyestrous and react differently to less notable seasonal changes.
The mating season is at its peak during November and December. The mating process can last for several days. The male and female live together and are most of the time busy while chasing each other.
The gestation period is seven months, and the fawns are born during early summer. The female mule deer give birth to a single fawn for the first time. Afterward, twins are born.
Fallow Deer are found in abundance in United States, Europe, and Asia. The mating season of this type of deer starts in September and can last up to November.
In fact, October is the month when fallow deer breed actively. The male deer will mark their territory and fight with others who are trying to enter their area.
The female gives birth to fawns from May to June. Usually, fallow deer give birth to a single baby deer.
These European species are normally found in the UK and Scotland. They start to mate at the peak of the summer season. The normal mating season starts from mid-July and may continue up to mid-August.
The female roe deer shows a distinctive trait. The fertilized egg will stop developing till January. This helps to prevent giving birth during extreme winter months. The fawns are born during May and June.
What is Rut?
Although the mating season is the event where most of the action happens, the male deer continue to prepare for this activity. The rut is an essential activity that is associated with the initial rituals of breeding.
The rut is main part of mating process. In fact, it is a competition between male deer to show their dominance. This is a common way to gain the affection of a female deer.
Different species perform rut differently. Hence, the actions may vary depending on the type of species. The most common example is the butting of heads, which is a way to test strength.
Normally, species with antlers can fight aggressively and violently. However, there are some species like red deer, which avoid physical contact. On the contrary, they utter low guttural roars when competing for the rut.
Deer spend most of their time while caring for their antlers. They usually protect and strengthen their antlers for competing during the rut. For instance, reindeer grow velvet on the antlers.
This is the reason why antlers are different from horns. The velvet is a tissue that offers necessary nutrients to the antlers. As a result, the antlers stay in perfect shape.
Male deer shed their velvet once a year. After that, they are ready to compete with other males. The deer with the strongest and largest antlers is likely to win the battle.
What Sounds a Dear Make?
Since deer is a quiet and peace-loving animal, it doesn’t utter many noises. They prefer to be silent, as it prevents them from the attack of predators. This helps them to ensure the protection of the herd as a whole.
Nevertheless, there are certain instances where deer can make loud noises. Especially, when they sense danger, they make typical sounds to alert their herd.
So, deer can make different sounds depending on the current situation. The most commonly used sounds are for communicating with each other. This also involves notifying others about the nearby danger.
Hunters pay great attention to the sounds made by deer. Some of the experienced hunters can even understand the next move of a deer, as they get familiar with the sounds they make.
In fact, the sound of a deer isn’t that delicate as its physical appearance. The sound may also change with age and sex. For instance, male calls are different from female calls.
When communicating with each other, male deer make soft sounds with longer notes. But they utter short and deep vocals when it’s time to show dominance.
On the contrary, female deer make disturbing sounds, especially when they are ready for mating. Hence, the deer sound changes with varying purposes.
Sounds Made by Deer in the Wild
Deer make different sounds when out there in the wild. Discussed below are three of the most distinctive sounds:
Grunts are the sounds that are used for the sake of conversation. Sounds like these can be small or long depending on what the deer are talking with each other. Male deer usually grunt before mating, especially during the rut.
Fawns and female deer utter this type of sound. Females normally bleat during the estrus period. On the other hand, fawns make such noises when they are hungry or searching for their mother.
Snorting sounds serve as an alarm during dangerous situations. Deer utter snorting sounds in different ways. Normally, they blow air through their nostrils, which makes a snorting noise.
Here are the different deer calls that they use for different situations.
Some Incredible and Unknown Fact about the Deer
Listed below are the most interesting and unknown facts about the deer.
Deer have a strong hearing ability
The ears of a deer are capable to hear sounds from far away. They usually move their ears to collect the sound waves coming from different directions.
This allows them to listen to the surrounding sounds without moving their head. They can also hear sounds that humans can’t hear due to their higher frequencies.
Deer possess a powerful sense of smell
The sense of a deer is so powerful that it can smell a predator from quite a distance. In order to enhance their sense of smell, they keep their nostrils moist. This is why they continuously lick their nostrils.
Deer is a social animal
Deer live in herds, which may contain both the sexes. They form segregated herds but continue to live together during mating season. In this situation, the male-dominant deer will lead the herd. The herd can exceed 100,000 members.
Deer communicate in special ways
Deer utilize various communication methods. They can use their vocals, visuals, and chemicals for communicating with each other.
The scent produced in their body can convey different messages including sex, physique, social status of other deer. Female attracts the male deer by releasing a particular scent.
Deer exhibit both polygamy and monogamy behavior
For most of the species, the breeding season is relatively short. Hence, they show different types of mating characteristics. The male mostly has one or more females in its territory.
Numerous males can stay together to protect a group of females, which is popularly known as “Harem”. Males can also stay together when looking for female herds before mating season.
Deer are variably colored
The most commonly seen deer specifies has a light brown coat. There are some species with dark brown color. The fawns have spots on their body. This helps them to stay away from the sight of a predator.
Fawns lack a detectable smell
Due to this feature, predators can’t pick the smell of a nearby fawn. As a result, fawns can hide easily. Mothers protect their fawns by looking after them for 1 to 2 years.
During this period, they feed them. Mother deer select a suitable and safest place to hide their fawns. They stay there until strong enough to protect themselves against predators.
Chinese water deer lacks antlers
Chinese water deer is the only deer species that don’t have antlers. On the contrary, they have long canine teeth. These are used to attract the female during mating season.
The only domestic deer is reindeer
The reindeer is a species that can be raised domestically. Besides, reindeer can also coexist with humans. However, other species spend their lives in the wild and are not willing to share their territory with others.
Deer serve as an essential part of our ecosystem
Deer are referred to as the most common prey for a wide range of predators. Hence, the life of the carnivorous animals depends on the deer population.
Humans also hunt them for food in various areas where other food sources are not available. So, deer is a key element of our food chain.
Deer antlers exhibit fast growth
The deer antlers are made of special tissues. These tissues are capable of growing much faster than any other animal tissue.
The Irish elk is the biggest existed deer species
Irish elk is an extinct species, which was living on our planet some 11, 000 years ago. The Irish elk was 7 feet tall. This is why it was the largest deer species ever existed on the face of the earth.
Deer are the part of cave history
Paleontologists have discovered deer artwork painted in the caves. They are known to be present during the Stone Age. Hence, deer are among the oldest animals that are still part of our ecosystem.
To conclude, this guide about deer is meant to have a better understanding of deer, their habitat, behaviors, and types.
Deer is the symbol of natural aesthetics. It plays a critical role in the food chain.