Red deer

Deer is one of the subspecies of the red deer that lives in the eastern part of Asia. The Latin description of the taxon was given by the French zoologist Milne-Edwards in 1867 — Cervus elaphus xanthopygus.

Species origin and description

Photo: Red deer

Photo: Red deer

This artiodactyl mammal from the deer family belongs to the genus of real and to the species of red deer, representing a separate subspecies. Red deer unite many subspecies that differ in size and appearance of the antlers, some color details. Their ancestors were common and went their own evolutionary path. The closest relatives of the red deer: European, Caucasian, Bukhara deer, maral, live in different regions.

Video: red deer

The formation of certain geographical forms occurred during the Pleistocene glaciations and the rise in the level of the Caspian on the border of Europe and Asia. These phenomena have been going on for thousands of years. The remains of various subspecies of red deer were found in Europe, in Russia, Ukraine, the Caucasus, Eastern Siberia and belong to the early, middle and late Pleistocene. The described large number of found forms have common roots, but the degree of relationship between them is little studied.

Deer — a large subspecies of red deer, but adults are smaller than deer. They are found in Eastern Siberia, the Far East and Northern and Northeastern China. This subspecies is well expressed, but in places where habitable zones coincide with the range of the Altai maral (Transbaikalia), deer with intermediate characters can be found.

Fun fact: Red deer make different sounds. When frightened, they sound like “gow”, not as loud as roe deer do. Juveniles and females “talk” with melodic squeaking. Females can low, and males roar loudly during the rut, and their roar is much lower in tone and coarser than that of all other red deer.

Appearance and Features

Photo: Red deer look like

Photo: Red deer look like

Subspecies xanthopygus has a silhouette similar in outline to other members of the genus and species. Slender, typically deer build with long legs and a graceful, high neck. The tail is short, the ears are widely spaced on an elongated head. Red deer have a reddish-red shade of wool in summer, brown with a gray tint in winter.

They, unlike other red deer, have a wide and large mirror (a lighter spot on the back of the body near the tail, capturing the upper part of the hind legs) It comes in red deer above the tail and is slightly lighter than the main color of the carcass in summer, and reddish in winter. Legs of the same tone with the sides or slightly darker.

The height of the animal in the region of the front legs is about one and a half meters, the weight is 250 kg, sometimes larger specimens are also found. The muzzle between the fangs is narrower than that of the deer, and the head has a length of 390-440 mm. Females are smaller and hornless. The horns of males, small in length, have a thin, sheer trunk, which makes them seem light, unlike deer. They do not form a crown, but the number of processes is 5 or 6. The fourth process, as a rule, is much smaller and not so developed.

The red deer has a wide step of about 60 cm and travels up to five kilometers in an hour. It changes to a gallop when frightened, but hardly moves at a trot. Jumps can reach six meters in length. This artiodactyl has good eyesight, but relies more on hearing and an excellent sense of smell. When an animal grazes, it always stands with its head to the wind in order to catch all the sounds and smells.

Since the load on the wapiti trail is quite high – 400-500 g per cm2, then in deep snow (with a cover height of more 60 cm) it is difficult for them to move around. At this time, they use old paths or move from one place to another under dense conifers.

Where does the red deer live?

Photo: Red deer in Transbaikalia

Photo: Red deer in Transbaikalia

These beautiful, majestic animals are ecologically very plastic and can live in different natural conditions from the mountain-alpine zone to the sea coast, from taiga forests and steppes. They live in areas with a dry climate and snowless winters, as in Transbaikalia and up to Primorye, where there is a lot of rain in summer and snow in winter.

The habitat of the animal from the western part begins from the south of Eastern Siberia, from the eastern bank of the Yenisei and reaching the mouth of the Angara, up to the Stanovoy Range. In the Baikal region, the animal is found irregularly. Basically, its habitats are located along the spurs of the Daursky and Yablonovy ridges, it is found on the Vitim Plateau.

Further, the range will spread to the north-west of the Onon Upland, capturing the banks of the Lena and reaching the upper reaches of the Ilga, Kuda, Kulinga. Further north, it rises along the right bank of the Lena to the Khanda valley, includes the Kirenga basin, reaching the middle of the river. Ulkan. From the north, the range is limited by the western slopes of the Baikal Range. Passing through the Vitim, the Baton Highlands, the habitat again crosses the Lena River, but to the north of the Vitim River. But near Lensk, in the river valley, this animal is not found.

Deer is found in Yakutia. Here, its range extends along the Olekma river basin, the upper reaches of the river. Amga and the left bank of the river. Aldan. In Transbaikalia, his life is spent in the mountains and highlands. To the east, the range moves from the sources of the Uda to the basins of the Amgun, Selemzha, Amur, Samarga rivers. In the east, the range captures Primorye, the Khabarovsk Territory and the Amur Region, from the north the border is delineated by the southern slopes of the Stanovoy Range. The southern habitat of the red deer in Russia is outlined by the Amba River.

Red deer can be found in the basins of the Partizanskaya, Okhotnichiya, Milogradovka, Zerkalnaya, Dzhigitovka, Rudnaya, Margaritovka, Serebryanka, Velikaya Kema, Maksimovka rivers. Hoofed animals are found on the Tumannaya Hill, Kit Bay, Zarya Bay, Cape Olimpiada and Belkin, in the Terenei District. In China, the range covers Northern Manchuria and descends to the Yellow River. Red deer can also be found in the north of Korea.

Now you know where red deer are found. Let's see what he eats.

What do red deer eat?

Photo: Red deer in the Irkutsk region

Photo: Red deer in the Irkutsk region

The composition of the red deer diet consists of a variety of plants, the list of which reaches 70 items. The main share is made up of herbaceous plants, shrubs and trees. These can be: branches, bark, shoots, buds, leaves, needles, fruits, and in winter, lichens, Far Eastern winter horsetail. The ratio of the volume of grassy and branch forages depends on how snowy the winter is.

In Eastern Siberia: in the Baikal region, in the region of the Eastern Sayan, in the basin of the Chita River, herbaceous vegetation is of great importance, it is eaten in the warm season and in the cold in the form of dry residues, rags. In these regions, winters are not snowy. Herbaceous vegetation is no less important in the menu of the Far Eastern red deer.

Grasses are plentifully eaten from herbaceous vegetation, especially in spring, in the first half of summer, until the grass coarsens. Leftover cereals are on the menu in winter. A large segment is occupied by Compositae, such as wormwood, as well as legumes, umbrellas. In the presence of a large food base, plants eat the most juicy parts, more nutritious, by the end of summer – inflorescences, grass tops.

In winter, red deer prefer basal, remaining green, parts of perennials, winter-green grasses. For example, mountain fescue is the Siberian handsome's favorite cereals, and they eat hay with more pleasure than branch food. With the onset of spring, blueberries, sleep-grass, and watch go to feed. Red deer eat poisonous aconite and belladonna.

From hardwoods, the diet includes:

  • elm;
  • aspen;
  • birch;
  • rowan;
  • bird cherry;
  • willow;
  • buckthorn;
  • blackberry;
  • currant;
  • raspberry;
  • honeysuckle.

Deer in the Far East are expanding their menu with:

  • Amur velvet;
  • Manchurian aralia;
  • lespedecia;
  • Daurian rhododendron;
  • barred maple;
  • greenskin maple.

The needles of larch, spruce fir, red deer pines are rarely eaten, only in the absence of other food, and pine can cause indigestion and poisoning in young animals. In Primorye, where winters are relatively mild, with thaws, animals feed not only on branches and young shoots, but also on bark. In autumn, the diet includes berries, fruits of fruit trees, nuts, oak acorns. Nuts and acorns can also be food in winter, if the thickness of the snow cover is not higher than 25 cm. The menu includes mushrooms: russula, mushrooms, milk mushrooms, porcini, as well as lichens.

Photo: Red deer in winter

Red deer do not like dense forests, preferring sparse places with good deciduous undergrowth, bushes with a lot of grass: in clearings and forest edges. Their habitats are characterized by a mosaic pattern of territories. In summer or in snowless winters, they choose more open spaces, and in winter, they move to places with denser coniferous vegetation. In the more preferable zones of the plain forest-steppes, the red deer have been exterminated or driven out by man. Now most often they can be found on steep and rugged mountain slopes, where the elk does not like to go.

In Siberia, spruce forests are chosen by this animal, but where there are many glades, overgrown burnt areas with an abundance of shrubs and deciduous undergrowth, grass. In the Sayans, the ungulate prefers the middle part of the forest belt, but in summer it rises to the subalpine zone and enters the alpine meadows. In Sikhote-Alin, the mammal's favorite place is middle-aged burnt areas with typical Manchurian and Okhotsk vegetation, coastal oak forests. In the Far East, in coniferous forests, they can be found less frequently. In the mountains, the beast rises up to 1700 meters to mountain meadows.

Interesting fact: Red deer are characterized by vertical migrations. In anticipation of cold weather, they gradually descend along the forest slopes, closer to the base of the mountain spurs, into the valleys. With the onset of spring, they again begin to rise higher towards the ridges.

In the hot season, red deer graze at dawn, until the dew disappears, then continue in the evening, taking a break for the night. In rainy or cloudy weather, if nothing bothers them, as well as in high mountain areas, they can graze throughout the day.

When laying down, deer choose well-ventilated, open places to get rid of annoying midges. It can be shoals, banks of reservoirs, forest fires, edges. Depending on the time of year and day, especially in the second half of summer, they may prefer thickets of bushes and dense tall grass. In very hot weather, in order to cool off and escape from midges, animals can enter rivers or lie down on snowfields. In spring and early summer, as well as during the rut, animals actively visit salt licks.

Interesting fact: Deer can eat algae washed ashore or drink sea water. This helps artiodactyls replenish their mineral reserves. To this end, they often come to the river ice in winter to lick the ice.

In winter, when food is scarce, red deer are busy looking for and feeding all day, weather permitting. In windless, frosty weather, animals are more active. During the winds, they seek shelter: in dense thickets of bushes, thicket, hollows. Abundant snowfall is waiting on the bed. In mountainous areas, and these are the main habitats of red deer, they prefer sunny slopes with good visibility. In the valleys, where the weather is often windy, the animals stay up, looking for places where the wind will not disturb them.

Social Structure and Reproduction

Photo: Red deer calf

Photo: Red deer cub

Deer are herd animals. Often these are small groups of 3-5 individuals, but in Siberia there are herds of 20 animals. The race takes place in autumn. In Eastern Siberia, this is mid-September, in Sikhot-Alin – September 20-25, in the south of Primorye from September 25 to October 1. At this time, the males roar, at first not very loudly, and after that their roar can be heard for several kilometers.

At the beginning of the rut, the males stay one at a time in their territory. They peel off the bark, break the tops of young trees, beat with their hooves, trampling the site. This place, hunters call “point”, it has a characteristic smell of animal urine. Also, males wallow in the mud, in “bathing suits”. By the end of the rut, the male gets himself two or three girlfriends. Mating, depending on the region, takes place from mid-September to October 20. At this time, fights take place among the deer, but more often they are limited to a demonstration of aggression.

Interesting fact: During the rut, hearing the roar of a stronger opponent, a weak challenger hurries to hide. The male with the harem also leads his herd away from the roaring red deer.

A female may bring a calf in her second, but more often this happens in her third year of life. But they are not barren every year. Pregnancy is 35 weeks. The hotel starts at the end of May and goes until June 10th. Red deer calve in secluded places, in thickets of bushes and bring more often than one calf, whose weight is about 10 kg. He is helpless in the first hours, when he tries to get up, he falls.

For the first three days, the deer lies and gets up only for feeding several times a day. The mother always keeps a distance of about 200 meters from the baby, so as not to attract attention. A week later, the calves are still ill on their feet, but try to follow their mother. Feeding occurs five times a day. At two weeks old, babies run well, from the age of one month they begin to switch to pasture, after which chewing gum appears. In July, the young in running do not lag behind adults, but continue to suck milk until the beginning of winter, sometimes taking a break during the rut.

In males, at the end of the first year of life, bony bumps appear on the forehead, which grow up and become the basis of future horns. They begin to grow from the second year, and by the beginning of the third they stiffen, clearing themselves of the skin. The first horns have no branches and are shed in April. The following year, males develop horns with several processes. Every year the size and weight of the horns increases, up to about 10-12 years, and then gradually the weight and size become smaller and smaller.

Interesting fact: Manchurian deer have horns of 3- 8 kg. They are larger and heavier than the Bukhara ones (3-5 kg), but much lighter than the marals (7-15 and even 20 kg), inferior to the Caucasian ones (7-10 kg).

Adult males shed their horns in the second half, at the end of March. Shedding occurs twice a year: in spring and autumn. Mammals live for about 12-14 years, in captivity up to 20 years.

Natural enemies of red deer

Photo: Red deer look like

Photo: Red deer look like

The main enemy of the red deer in nature is the wolf. Predators pursue adults in packs, in pairs, but not alone, as these animals can defend themselves. They rise, leaning on their hind legs, beat with their front hooves, horns help males in defense. From the pursuers, these ungulates try to escape to the rocks, they can enter the rapids of the rivers or swim into the sea. Fleeing from wolves in the rocks, deer often fall off steep slopes and die.

These artiodactyls die less often from other predators, but they are attacked by:

  • bears;
  • lynxes;
  • wolverines.

Wolverines are especially successful in hunting during snowy winters or on crusty crust, when it is difficult for the red deer to move. The danger for young individuals can be represented by the harza, which, at small sizes, has a very aggressive character. In former times, tigers and snow leopards posed a great danger to the red deer, but now they are rare and their harm to the deer population is negligible. second place after the boar.

The enemies of the red deer can be considered his fellow tribesmen. Some of the animals die during fights during the rut, and some of the survivors are so exhausted that they cannot survive the winter, especially if it turned out to be frosty and snowy.

One of the enemies is man and his activities. In addition to fishing and poaching, people influence the landscape by changing the initial appearance of artiodactyl habitats. Destroying forests, building cities, plowing up forest-steppe zones, laying highways and railways, a person narrows the territorial boundaries where this animal can live.

Species population and status

Photo: Red deer

Photo: Red deer

The red deer in Transbaikalia was previously found everywhere, except for the high-mountainous northern regions. Since 1980, the population of this animal in this region has decreased due to poaching and active development of forest areas. According to the results of the ground count for 2001-2005, the livestock decreased by 9 thousand and amounted to 26 thousand individuals. About 20 thousand of these artiodactyls live in the east of Transbaikalia, mainly in the southeast of this area. About three thousand red deer live in Yakutia now. The livestock throughout Eastern Siberia is estimated at no more than 120 thousand individuals.

In the Far East in the forties of the last century, the bulk of red deer lived on the territory of Sikhote-Alin. On the lands of the reserve then there were up to 10 thousand of these animals. In the fifties, the area of ​​protected lands decreased several times, and the number of deer here has sharply decreased. In Primorye, the number of animals in 1998-2012 was 20-22 thousand heads. Population estimates in China range from 100,000 to 200,000 head (1993), but due to illegal hunting and loss of habitats due to human activities, the population is declining. Studies in 1987 showed that the deer population in Xinjiang declined by 60% between 1970 and 1980.

Despite a decline of 30-40% by 1975, some groups, for example in the territory Heilongjiang, slightly increased. Range reduction due to habitat loss has resulted in the red deer's current distribution being limited mainly to northeastern China (Heilongjiang, Nei Mongol, and Jilin) ​​and parts of Ningxia, Xinjiang, Gansu, Qinghai, Sichuan, and Tibet.

This animal is now listed as a Category II protected species of China's National List of Protected Animals. In Russia, the red deer is not listed in the Red Book, and even limited fishing is allowed for it. This animal is valued for its tasty meat, durable skin. A special place is occupied by processes of antlers – antlers, which are mined for the preparation of medicines.

Interesting fact: In the 19th century, hunters caught red deer using pits, and then kept these animals at home to cut antlers. The villages had their own sawing specialists. In the 1890s, up to 3,000 antlers were mined in Transbaikalia per year, this number included a thousand antlers from those animals that were kept at home.

Deer is a beautiful taiga animal, which needs protection. To increase the population, measures are needed to control illegal hunting, the expansion of protected lands, and the reduction of areas of deforestation. The value of this animal is important not only in itself, but also as one of the food sources for the rare Ussuri tiger.

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