The red deer is a mammalian artiodactyl animal living in the forests of Central Russia and the cities of the North. The red deer also lives in North and South America, Eurasia, as well as populations of this species are found in North Africa.
Origin of the species and description
The deer family Cervldae has a huge number of breeds. Red deer, spotted deer, flower deer, red deer, large marl deer, Bukhara deer.
One of the first representatives of this species is the giant deer (Megaceros), also this species is also called the bighorn deer. This species lived in the period from the Pliocene to the Polyanite. This is about a million years ago. The ancestors of modern deer lived in Central Asia. From where and spread around the world.
During evolution, several subgroups appeared – deer of the western type. In this species, the horns grew in the form of a crown. The red deer is just the modern representative of this type. And the eastern type of individual, their horns do not branch. Representatives of this genus in the form in which we are accustomed to seeing it appeared in the Paleolithic. Since then, the actual appearance of the animal has not changed much.
Appearance and Features
Noble deer are called “kings of the forest” for a reason. This is a fairly large and strong animal. The size of an adult male is from 170 to 210 cm in length, the height of the animal at the withers is 127-148 cm. An adult male animal weighs 174-209 kg. The females of this breed are significantly smaller than the males. The weight of an average adult female deer is from 130 to 162 kg. The length of the body is from 160 to 200 cm. The height of an adult female is 110-130 cm. A two-year-old young growth weighs about 120 kg. Adults of this species average 170 kg.
Moulting in red deer occurs in spring and autumn. The spring molt occurs from late April to early June. The renewal of wool in autumn occurs in September-October, depending on the climate in which the animal lives.
Video: Red deer
The average life expectancy in natural conditions is about 17-18 years. In captivity, animals live a little longer at about 24 years. An adult deer has 34 teeth in its mouth. Of these, 20 teeth are located on the lower jaw, 14 on the upper. A complete set of teeth and the formation of the jaw occurs at the 24th month of the animal’s life.
The wool of deer is thick, the color can be different. On the skin of the deer there are hollow hairs that protect the body of the animal from the cold, and do not allow to freeze even in extremely cold conditions. On the legs of a deer there are many blood capillaries, therefore, despite the fact that they are sparsely covered with wool, they do not freeze. Reindeer can withstand temperatures down to minus 60 degrees Celsius.
Where do red deer live?
The habitat of red deer is huge. Deer live virtually all over the world. In Russia, these are the forests of the central part of the country, the Kaluga and Bryansk regions. North, Yakutia and the entire Republic of Sokha. Kolyma and Kamchatka. Ukraine and Belarus, the Baltics.
Abroad, these are Algeria, Morocco, Chile, North Africa, Argentina. Deer also love the lush grasslands of New Zealand. A large number of deer of this breed live in Alaska and North America. This species easily tolerates acclimatization. And therefore it occupies vast territories around the world.
The red deer lives in mixed forests with most of the deciduous trees. Deer are herbivores, they eat plant foods, so they live mainly where this food can be obtained. In 1781, the domestication of this species of animals also began in Russia.
What does the red deer eat?
Deer are herbivores and feed on plants. The diet of deer includes mainly grassy vegetation, reindeer moss, tree foliage. Mushrooms and berries, lichens are used as food. Various cereals and legumes.
In winter, with low snow cover, deer can dig up fallen leaves from under the snow, feed on young tree bark and shrub stalks. Chestnuts and acorns, nuts are also eaten. Various kinds of roots. Deer have a good sense of smell, and are able to smell food even under a snow cover from half a meter to a meter thick.
Individuals living in the North and in the Tundra often lack protein due to monotonous food. Reindeer moss and mosses cannot give everything that an animal’s body needs. Therefore, deer can eat bird eggs, and even their own shed antlers.
Deer are ruminants and the feeding process takes about 8 hours. Deer do not graze in hot weather. These are more nocturnal animals. In addition, deer do not like noise, it scares them. In the evening, the deer goes to meadows and pastures where it grazes almost all night, and closer to the morning the animal returns to its place of residence, where it rests and digests food.
Red deer are capable of seasonal migration in the absence of food in their usual habitat. Deer migrate in huge herds. From all sides, small herds of deer gather into a huge, numerous herd. Such collectivity provides deer with safety and high survival rate. In case of danger, deer also gather in herds to protect themselves and each other. Ahead of the herd is the leader, who monitors safety. Reindeer can travel great distances before they find a place where they can find food.
Character and lifestyle features
The nature, habits of the animal and lifestyle mainly depend on where the animal lives. Wild animals are aggressive and fearful. They need to protect themselves and the herd from predators, survive in an aggressive natural environment. During the migration of deer, having heard the roar of the leader, it is better for people to leave. Deer do not attack people, however, they are not afraid to defend themselves.
In the wild, male deer can live alone, while females gather in small herds. Herds of females are 4-7 individuals. Sometimes small herds of one male and several females with cubs gather. The main differences between females and males appear during the mating season. During the mating season, males become aggressive. They forget about food and food and look for a female. A deer at this time can beat with its horns not only another male, but also a female that does not reciprocate.
Also, male deer either in a fit of rage, or in order to free themselves from heavy antlers with they beat their horns against the trees with force. At the same time, a wild knock and roar of males can be heard through the forest.
This occurs during the winter, males often completely exhaust themselves during the mating season and many do not survive the winter. Most of the life of deer, like other animals, is spent in search of food. In case of special need, deer can come to people’s houses in search of food.
Red deer interact well with humans. Reindeer breeding is widely developed in the North of our country and in other countries. Man was able not only to tame this animal, but also to make the deer a good helper. Reindeer carry goods, work harmoniously in teams. On the farm, red deer are kept in small herds. Reindeer in the farm live on a free-range floor, they need vast territories.
The deer have a very developed collective migratory instinct, to the point that domestic deer go into migration, although this instinct becomes dull over time. Deer are grown both for economic purposes and for meat. Reindeer meat is a staple food for residents of the north and the Far East.
Social culture and reproduction
The red deer is a herd animal. Easily contacts with other representatives of this species, well tamed by humans.
Main characteristics of the social structure of deer:
- male deer can live alone;
- males during the rut form harems of females; The number of females near one male can reach 20 individuals;
- females in ordinary life live separately from males, in small flocks;
- at the time of migration, the entire herd obeys the leader. Migration can take place over fairly long distances;
- deer walk quickly and swim well.
Reproduction of red deer
This usually happens during the cold season. The rut starts in September-October. During the mating season, males lose their natural vigilance. They forget about safety, food, become aggressive. The female is capable of breeding at the age of 2-3 years. Male at the age of 5-7 years.
The mating process in deer does not last long. Mating usually takes a few seconds. Pregnancy of a female red deer lasts almost 8 months. Pregnancy takes place in the winter, when it is difficult to find food, which is quite difficult. And it has a strong effect on the mother’s body. In the spring, one sometimes (but very rarely) two cubs are born. At birth, a deer weighs from 7 to 10 kilograms.
After giving birth, the deer lies motionless in the grass for about a week, the mother feeds her child with milk, and feeds next to the cub. To protect the brood from predators. By next winter, the baby will stop sucking milk and get used to regular food. Red deer protect their offspring with the whole herd. Covering babies with their bodies from predators during an attack, huddling together in herds.
Natural enemies of red deer
Predators. The main enemies of wild deer are, of course, predators. First of all, these are wolves. Deer females are especially vulnerable during pregnancy and feeding offspring, as well as after winter. When animals are exhausted and cannot run fast. In addition to wolves, the main enemies of deer are raccoon and wild dogs, foxes, lynxes, large Bengal cats, harza and bears. Fleeing from predators, deer can climb to the tops, hide in the water.
Insects. Invisible Enemies. In addition to predators, deer are subject to attacks by blood-sucking insects. In the summer season in the Far East and North, insects become so numerous that animals are forced to migrate. Human. And of course, hunters and poachers pose a great danger to deer. Deer meat is an important part of the human diet. In some places, venison is considered the main dish. Especially for the inhabitants of the north, where there is nothing but deer meat, horse meat and fish. Deer hunting is allowed.
Population and species status
The status of the red deer species in the Red Book «species with reduced vulnerability». Deer hunting is not permitted in all areas and at certain times of the year. The red deer population has been declining significantly in the last decade, so deer hunting is only allowed for a few months of the year. This is mainly the autumn-winter period.
Earlier, in the cities of Yakutia in the north and Taimyr, there was a high population of deer, which posed a threat to people’s lives. Deer approached populated areas; in winter, wild deer posed a danger to humans. In addition, deer ate some types of plants that could not recover.
Over time, the deer population has greatly decreased, so certain restrictions have been introduced on hunting. And for economic purposes and consumption, a deer farm is organized, where deer are bred for human needs.
Protection of the noble deer
Measures to preserve the population of this species:
- creation of nature reserves. Creation of places where hunting of any animals is prohibited. And these places are protected by the state.
- restriction on hunting for this type of animal. Red deer hunting is allowed only in autumn and winter, and not in all areas.
- creation of commercial farms for animal rearing. The development of the North by man is impossible without agriculture. Cows, goats and other livestock cannot adapt to the extreme conditions of the North, and in order to reduce the spontaneous hunting of wild deer, deer breeding farms have been established. Reindeer breeding is widely developed not only in our country, but also abroad.
Noble deer are animals with a long history. One of the most hardy, strong and capable of changing the way of life of animals. Animals easily enduring in truth extreme conditions of life. Deer easily converge with a person, and are well trained. The red deer is a great wonder of nature, so let’s save this beautiful sight together.