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Red Deer image
Red Deer

Red Deer

(Mammal)

Red Deer Baby
Red Deer Baby

Red Deer Habits

Forests are the red deer's natural habitat. Where the forest has been cleared, the deer move onto open land. Even where forests have been replanted, deer rarely return because the dense regrowth of the conifers makes it difficult for them to feed. Some deer live on open land year round; others retreat to wooded glens in the worst winter weather.
Deer hunting is a popular, though controversial, sport. But the number of deer must be controlled each year, to prevent the herds from exhausting their food supply. Hunting, therefore, is seen as a necessary population control. Some species of deer are bred like cattle, but red deer are not suitable to be raised on on ranches, since they are dangerous during the rut.
Red deer are easiest to spot in summer, in wooded country during the early hours of the morning. Deer watchers must be stealthy since, like most herbivores (plant eaters), deer are very wary and alert and will quickly detect unfamiliar movements, sounds, or scents. Deer can rarely be be spotted on open land.

Red Deer Communication

As both hunters and zoologists know, deer have many means of communication, and vocalizations are an important part of their repertory. "Deer vocalizations are notable for their diversity, ranging from doglike 'alarm' barks to high-pitched, whistlelike mating bugles".
The occasions for deer conversations include social contact, interactions between mother and young, encounters with predators and especially the complex negotiations involved in mating.
Red deer use foot stomping, tail flagging, head bobbing, ear twitching, hoof pawing and nose licking; lunges, charges, chases, pokes and antler thrusts; and aggressive sounds, described as grunt-snorts and grunt-snort-wheezes as forms of communication. There are also alarm snorts and bawls and less disturbing sounds, like social-contact grunts between does.
Deer have a variety of glands that produce strongly scented hormonal signals. The vomeronasal organ detects hormones and other chemicals in urine with a characteristic intake of breath called the flehmen sniff.

Red Deer Breeding

The autumn mating season, called the rut, is the time when the dominant stags challenge and fight one another for access to the females. Several of the successful stags corner a group of thirty to forty females, called hinds, and will mate with each sexually mature member as she comes into season.
Younger stags are excluded from breeding by the older, more aggressive males. At the end of the rut, when the stags are exhausted, the younger stags may mate with any hinds which are late coming into season.
The stags leave the females when the rut is over, forming bachelor herds for the rest of the year. The larger animals are still dominant, chasing away rivals from the best feeding places.
The calves are born after a gestation period of 8 1/2 months. They are able to stand unsteadily at 20 minutes old, and are able to take milk 10 minutes later. A calf will stay with its mother until she gives birth again. At this time she drives it away so that it will not compete with the new calf.

Red Deer Food & Feeding

Red deer are primarily grazing animals. They feed on grass by cutting it between their sharp lower incisor teeth and their hard upper gums. They also have strong teeth in their cheeks that enable them to eat twigs in the winter when grass is scarce.

Red Deer Key Facts

        Size 
              Height: Males 4-5 feet. Females are a little smaller
              Weight: 220-265 pounds
       Breeding
             Sexual maturity: Females 2-4 years. Males breed at 5-6 years
             Mating: Early fall
             Gestation: Average 235 days
             Number of young: 1 (twins are rare)
       Lifestyle 
            Habit: Sociable; males form separate herds during non-breeding season
            Diet: Grass, heather, twigs, leaves, and fruits
            Lifespan: 17-20 years

 

DID YOU KNOW?

  • While most deer eat only the velvet as it falls off their antlers, stags in the Highlands of Scotland eat their shedded antlers as well.
  • Fighting stags sometimes lock their antlers together and cannot separate. When this happens, both will starve to death.
  • A stag with twelve points on is antlers is called a "royal".
  • The male red deers are known as stags and females of the species are called hinds.
  • Their antlers are living tissues covered with thick covering of a protective layer called velvet.

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