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Scientific Name: Cervus elaphus
With a wonderful reddish and brown coloring, the Red Deer is one that you will enjoy viewing. Of course you do need to be very quiet in their natural setting or they will run the other direction to hide. When the colder period of the year is in place, they feature a gray color instead of the red. It is interesting to be able to observe them in both colors. Most people don’t realize that this occurs though so they can be confused about what they see in the wild.
The coloring changes are part of how the Red Deer is able to hide so well in its natural environment. The other distinct feature of it happens to be those huge antlers. They are very big with as many as 20 points on them. Even the less dominant males have 10 or more points on theirs.
With a full grown weight of about 200 pounds for the females and 400 pounds for males, the Red Deer is ranked with the larger sized ones. In height the males are about 4 feet tall. The females are about ½ a foot shorter.
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Even though they do feature a very large body, the Red Deer is a fast animal. They are able to move when they need to in order to get out of the way of danger. They have strong legs that can be used for fighting should they feel that they aren’t going to be successful when it comes to running. Never under estimate the damage that those legs and hooves can do to humans or other animals.
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We could spend all day going through the various thoughts and theories relating to the Red Deer and evolution. We have been able to test fossil remains through DNA and know that this particular species of deer has been around for at least 13 million years. It could be much more than that, but until we discover older fossils we can’t say for sure.
What is known is that this is a very strong genetic type of deer and one that has been able to defeat the odds. The Red Deer has gone through changes in order to be able to survive for so long. We aren’t really sure though what all changes have happened or why. The color changing for the different seasons though is strong indicator of the evolution process working to their advantage.
Red Deer Video
What is interesting is that in some areas the Red Deer is living in very small herds. Typically they will form herds of 100 or more. Experts believe that the smaller herds are the result of smaller natural habitat and also not as much food. It simply isn’t possible for these larger herds to be able to survive in particular regions. By breaking down the herds though they can spread out and give everyone a better chance of finding food and shelter.
For the Red Deer, they feel safer when they have a large number to be a part of. They will stay very close to each other even when they do have more room to spread out. They can use the signals from each other to warn of predators. The males aren’t going to be staying around these herds too much though. They are loners but will definitely be back in the picture when it is time to for mating to begin.
You will find that the Red Deer is able to live in a variety of different locations. As long as they have food and they have shelter then an environment can work for them. This is part of how they have been able to survive for so many millions of years. Each herd or lone male has a home territory that they cover. They will span it looking for food and finding a new place to bed down for the day.
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The Red Deer feeds differently at given times of the year. In the spring and summer they will eat lots of lichen, moss, and grass. As the fall comes along they will consume more than before in order to store up fat reserves for the winter. The foods they most often consume in the winter months consist of leaves and twigs.
Finding enough food for the winter can be very difficult for these deer. That is a concern due to the number of females that will be pregnant through that period of time. Yet as their natural habitat continues to be used up by people, it is harder and harder for them to thrive out there.
Mating season is a very exiting time to watch the actions of the males. These deer are mature at the age of 2. For the males though they may have to fight off that desire to mate until they are 6 or older. They will use their antlers to fight dominant deer and if they win then they get to mate in that territory. The role of the strong males is one that helps to ensure a good line of genetics for the future generations.
A single male will end up with a harem of females that he mates with. The number can range from just a few of them to more than ten. It really depends on the size of the herds that are around because those females are going to stick together. After mating with all of the females around, he will be on his way. His next order of business is to get busy finding food to keep him healthy through the winter.
The females will also engage in finding food so that they can have healthy offspring. A fawn will appear about 7 months down the road. It is at this time that the herd will split up somewhat for a while. Those with offspring will go on their own to find shelter. Hiding the fawn is very important if it is going to survive. The fawn will have to be left alone for periods of time. That is the only way the female is going to be able to feed.
They seem to have a longer life span than many other species of deer. In captivity it can be up to 20 years. In the wild though they will live approximately 10 to 15 years. There are many variables that have to be taken into consideration.
Red Deer Video
When it comes to predators in the wild, the Red Deer is quite lucky. The wolf is really the only one known to bother it. There are rumors that some other predators try to feed on the young fawns but it all comes down to the vicinity where it is living. As those predators struggle to find their regular sources of food they can start to look for such alternatives.
Humans do love to hunt the Red Deer though due to the size of it. Many hunters want to have lots of meat to last them. Thanks to processing methods they can do so from a single kill. It is also the desire to own a set of antlers that are as large and majestic as those on some of the males. Even though not everyone is a fan of such hunting methods, it does help to ensure that there isn’t an overpopulation problem for the Red Deer.