About Deer

The hoofed ruminant mammals that make up the Cervidae family are deer or true deer. There exist two major classes of deer, firstly Cervidae which majorly includes the muntjac, fallow deer, elk (wapiti), chital, and red deer and the second major class is Capreolinae, including the reindeer (caribou), roe deer, mule deer, and moose.

With the exception of the Chinese water deer, female reindeer and male deer of all species develop and shed new antlers each year. They vary from permanently horned antelopes, which have been a part of a separate family (Bovidae) inside the same order of even-toed ungulates (Artiodactyla).

Tropical African and Asian woodland chevrotains (Tragulidae) and Asian musk deer (Moschidae) are distinct groups inside the clade of ruminants (Ruminantia). Among all the Ruminantia, they are not particularly likely to be related to deer.


Deer Information 

Deers exist in paintings from Paleolithic cave paintings onward, and throughout history, they also played a part in religion, folklore, and literature, and also in heraldry, like red deer featuring in Åland's coat of arms. Using their meat as venison, their skins as solid buckskin, fluffy, and their antlers as handles for knives represent some of their economic significance.

Ever since at least the Middle Ages, deer hunting had become a common practice and still persists as a resource for several families today.


Distribution

In a number of biomes, from tundra to tropical rainforest, deers are found. Many deers are ecotone species, and deer habitat sometimes is associated with forests, which reside in transitional areas among prairie and savanna (open space) and forests and thickets (for cover).

  • Temperate mixed deciduous forest, tropical seasonal/dry forest, mountain mixed coniferous forest, and savanna habitats are populated by the majority of large deer species around the world. 

  • To a certain extent, cutting open areas throughout forests can potentially help deer populations by revealing the understory and enabling the kinds of weeds, grasses, and herbs to be grown, which deers always want to eat. 

  • Additionally, deer habitat can also benefit from access to neighbouring croplands. For populations to grow and flourish, however, sufficient forest or brush cover must still be established.

  • Up until 6000 years ago, an additional extinct species of deer, Megaceroides algericus, was found in North Africa. South Africa has been introduced to Fallow deer. Dense forests are usually inhabited by small species of brocket deer and pudús from Central and South America and muntjacs from Asia and are hardly ever seen in open spaces, with the probable exception of the Indian muntjac.

  • There are also many specialized populations of deer living almost entirely in swamps, grasslands, mountains, and "wet" savannas, or desert-surrounded riparian corridors. In both North America and Eurasia, several deer have quite a circumpolar distribution. 

  • The caribou living in the Arctic tundra and taiga (boreal forests) and the moose living in the taiga and neighbouring areas are examples. The ecological niches of the ibex and wild goat are filled by Huemul deer (Taruca and Chilean huemul) from the Andes of South America, with the fawns functioning somewhat like goat kids.

Description (Deer Characteristics)

  • Deer breeds have been the second most varied family after breeds of Artiodactyla. Although of similar construction, deers are heavily differentiated by their antlers from antelopes, which also, unlike most of the permanent horns of bovids, are temporarily and periodically regrown. 

  • Elongated, a diminutive tail, strong legs, and long ears are features typical of deer.

  • Deer show a large range in physical proportions. 

  • Deer body parts: The major deer body parts may include the head, legs and trunk. 

  • The moose, which is nearly 2.6 meters (8.5 ft) tall and weighs up to 800 kilograms (1,800 lb), is the largest existing deer. The elk weighs 240-450 kilograms and is 1.4-2 meters at the shoulder.

  • The northern pudu is the world's smallest deer; it hits the shoulder at only 32-35 centimetres and weights 3.3-6 kilograms. The Pudu of the South is just marginally taller and heavier. 

  • Sexual dimorphism is very pronounced; males appear to be larger and taller than average females in most species, and only males have antlers, excluding reindeer.

  • The colour of the coat typically varies between red and brown, but it may be as black as chocolate brown in the feathery deer or have a greyish tinge just like elk. Various brocket deer species range in coat colour from grey to reddish-brown. On a brown coat, numerous species including the fallow deer, the chital, and the sika deer display white spots.

  • The reindeer coat displays considerable regional variation. In a year, deer experience two moults; for example, in red deer the red, thin-haired summer coat is slowly replaced in autumn by that of the thick, greyish brown winter coat, and this, in turn, provides access to the summer coat at the beginning of spring. Moulting is significantly impacted by the photoperiod.

Types of Deer in India

There are approximately 34 types of deer in India. The names of some of the deer species has been mentioned below:-

  • Chital/Spotted Deer

  • Barasingha/Swamp Deer

  • Blackbuck/Indian Antelope

  • Chousingha/Four-Horned Antelope

  • Blackbuck/Indian Antelope

  • Sambar/Sambar Deer

  • Nilgai/Blue Bull

  • Sangai/Brow-Antlered Deer

  • Himalayan Tahr

  • Leaf Muntjac/Leaf Deer

  • Himalayan Serow

  • Nilgiri Tahr/Nilgiri Ibex

  • Himalayan Goral

  • Indian Hog Deer

  • Kashmir Stag/Hangul

  • White-Bellied Musk Deer

  • Barking Deer/Indian Muntjac 

  • Nilgiri Tahr/Nilgiri Ibex

  • Ladakh Urial

  • Tibetan Gazelle 

Diet of Deer

Deers are herbivores that rely predominantly on sedges, grass foliage, shrubs and trees, with major consumption of lichens in winter in the region of northern latitudes. They have thin, ruminant standards, unspecialized or undifferentiated stomachs, and great requirements for nutrition.

Deer breeds choose highly absorbable shoots, healthy grasses, young leaves, soft twigs, fungi, berries, and lichens instead of consuming and digesting large amounts of low-grade fibrous food, such as sheep and cattle. The low-fibre food moves easily via the food canal after limited fermentation and shredding.

In order to sustain antler development, the deer needs a large amount of minerals like phosphate, and calcium and this further needs a diet that is rich in nutrients. However, there are several records of deer engaged in carnivorous activities, like consuming dead lakeshore or predating northern bobwhite nests.


Reproduction in Deer

Approximately all cervids have become so uniparental species: only the female, known as a doe, takes care of the fawns. A doe usually carries one or two fawns at a time (triplets, although not uncommon, are unusual). Usually, the mating season starts in late August and continues till December. By early March, some animals mate.

The gestation period for European roe deer is approximately 10 months. Many fawns were raised with white patches covering their fur, but they lose these patches in several species by the close of their first winter. The fawn starts to take its first steps during the first 20 minutes of its life. The mother licks the fawn off until it becomes completely clear of smell, so it won't be found by predators.

For one week, the fawn remains concealed in the grass until it becomes capable of walking with its mother. For around a year, the fawn as well as her mother would remain together.

A male generally returns but never meets the mother again, but occasionally, by their own fawns, females return back and create small herds.


Features of Deer

Below mentioned are the features of deer:-

  • Deers tend to be ruminant and herbivore mammals. 

  • These animals are observed to have a stomach that is further divided into four (occasionally three) compartments. All the food they eat is regurgitated after a short period of time and this produced semi-digested mass termed as cud is again chewed.

  • Ruminating is the method of rechewing the cud to further decompose plant matter and facilitate digestion. Deer are also recognised by their horns, which are unique to the males of many of these species.

  • A female can sometimes have a tiny stub that gives the impression of a small horn. 

  • Deer animal feature eyes mostly on the sides of their faces, providing them with a sight of 310 degrees. This broad point of view makes it difficult for deer to concentrate on a fixed location. Deer have a clear view of the night, which is beneficial in the morning hours and near sunset.

  • Toward the front of the lower jaw, deer possess small teeth that they use to tear and split apart food. The front of the top jaw has no teeth. They have a hard palate instead, that is used in just about the same way that teeth are used.

  • Deer have big ears that are made up of several muscles attached to them that enables them to rotate their ears in almost any orientation without shaking their heads in any direction. This helps them to have an outstanding sense of hearing. Higher sound levels than humans can be detected by them.

  • Deer tend to be Ungulates that means they carry two-toed hoofs. There are powerful muscles in their long legs that allow them to walk 40 miles per hour and leap 10 feet high. It helps them to also be successful jumpers and swimmers.

Diseases 

Deer (particularly fallow deer owing to their gregarious behaviour patterns) were suspected in certain areas of the UK as a potential reservoir for the bovine tuberculosis transmission, a disease that cost £ 90 million in efforts to eradicate in the UK in 2005.

Deer species are believed to be significant in New Zealand because agents pick up M. bovis in places where Trichosurus vulpecula is infected with brushtail possums, and pass it to currently non - infected possums after their carcasses are scavenged everywhere.

As the primary maintenance source in the Michigan outbreak of bovine tuberculosis, the white-tailed deer Odocoileus virginianus was being reported, which constitutes a strong obstacle to the national elimination of the disease in livestock in the United States.

Moose and deer might carry rabies. Docile moose can suffer from such a brain worm that punches gaps or openings in the brain in its quest for an appropriate place to set up its eggs. It was said by a government biologist that they drive across searching for the perfect spot but never really find it. Deers appear to be immune to this parasite; it progresses through and is absorbed in the faeces via the digestive system.

In North America, elk, deer species, and moose can suffer from a terrible waste disease, which had been reported in the 1960s in a Colorado laboratory and is suspected to have been a prion disease. It is suggested to limit contact with Specified Risk Material (SRM) including the spinal column, brain, or lymph nodes due to the proliferation of cautionary hunters. Among many other government guidelines, are deboning the meat while slaughtering and disinfecting the tools as well as other devices used for butchering.


Facts on Deer

  • Worldwide, there are approximately 60 deer species. On all continents except Antarctica, deer are found. From mountainous regions to hot and moist rainforests, they may participate in a wide variety of environments. The only species found in Africa is the Barbary red deer.

  • A male deer is known as a buck, although some bigger males are known as stags. They call a female deer a doe or a hind and call a young deer a fawn.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1.What is the Lifespan of Deer?

Ans. The average lifespan of deer is approximately about 6 years. Most white-tailed male deer live to the age of around 6 years. Others live much longer, others less. Females live a lot longer than males by around two years. In Georgia, the record for white-tailed deer had been a doe who lived for 22 years.

2. How Much Feed Will a Deer Eat in a Day?

Ans. It relies on conditions of distribution and habitat, but when it is given free choice, deer can usually eat 0.75 percent - 1.5 percent body weight of Record Rack. If they have been fed a full diet, like in a fenced enclosure, they can usually eat about 2.5 percent -3 percent of their body weight.

3. What is the Speed of a Deer (Deer Speed)?

Ans. The deer speed is approximately 80km/h. Deer speed is one of the best deer characteristics.

4. Where Do Deer Live?

Ans. In several different habitats, deer are present. They reside in wetlands, deciduous forests, rain forests, grasslands, mountains and arid shrublands. Often, deer can also make themselves secure in urban environments when human civilizations become too nearby to their home.