The fallow deer - a European deer
The fallow deer is native to Europe but has been introduced around the world. The male fallow deer is known as a buck, the female is a doe, and the young a fawn. Adult bucks are 140–160 cm (long, and typically weigh 60–100 kg. Does are 130–150 cm long and 30–50 kg in weight. The largest bucks may however measure 190 cm long and weigh 150 kg. They live for about 12–16 years.
The colours of the fallow deer vary among different variants of the species. The most common one has a chestnut coat with white spots, most noticeable in summer with a much darker, unspotted coat in the winter. The light-coloured area around the tail is edged with black. The tail is light with a black stripe.
Only bucks have antlers, which are broad and shovel-shaped from three years. In the first two years the antler is a single spike.
Behavior and Lifecycle
The fallow deer was spread across central Europe by the Romans. From nearly 500,000 years ago through the Roman Empire and still today, fallow deer have been hunted for food and sport. Today, the fallow deer has been introduced to North America, South America, Africa, and Australia – and wild populations are becoming established in each of these areas. While the deer is considered prized by many hunters, it often competes with local species and may pose a threat.
They are grazing animals; their preferred habitat is mixed woodland and open grassland. During the rut bucks spread out and females move between them; at that time of year fallow deer are relatively ungrouped compared with the rest of the year, when they try to stay together in groups of up to 150.
The largest herd occurs right before the rutting season, while the smallest groups are females with fawns. Throughout a large portion of the year the sexes remain separated and only congregate during the mating months; however, other patterns may be described, such as bachelor groups and even mixed groups.
Fallow deer have a breeding season of about 135 days. In the north it tends to occur in the second half of October while it occurs in April in the south.
Different populations, environmental variation, size, and even age can determine the type of variation within a fallow deer mating system.
Researchers have shown that male fallow deer can lose up to 17% of their body weight during the rut, as they try to defend females or territory.
After the females are impregnated, the gestation period lasts up to 245 days and usually one fawn is born.
The red deer - one of the largest deer species
The red deer is one of the largest deer species and inhabits most of Europe as well as parts of Asia. Also, it is the only deer that inhabits Africa, in the north western parts. It has also been introduced in other parts of the world such as the US, Australia, and parts of South America. Red deer live on moorland and mountainsides, as well as grasslands near to woodland. They can also be seen in deer parks.
The red deer is the fourth-largest deer species after moose, elk, and sambar deer. It is a ruminant, eating its food in two stages and having an even number of toes on each hoof, like camels, goats, and cattle. Differences in appearance are noted between the various subspecies of red deer, primarily in size and antlers.
The male (stag) red deer is typically 175 to 250 cm long and weighs 160 to 240 kg; the female (hind) is 160 to 210 cm long and weighs 120 to 170 kg. The huge but small-antlered deer of the Carpathian Mountains weigh up to 500 kg. Antlers typically measure 71 cm in total length. A soft covering known as velvet helps to protect newly forming antlers in the spring. With the approach of autumn, the antlers begin to calcify and the stags' testosterone production builds for the approaching mating season. Within a few weeks of shedding old antlers, new ones will start to grow. Antler-growing is an energy-intensive activity and stags often lose weight during this process.
Red deer have different colouration based on the seasons and types of habitats, with grey or lighter colouration prevalent in the winter and more reddish and darker coat colouration in the summer. It has a paler buff rump patch and a pale tail.
Red deer venison is widely considered to be both flavourful and nutritious. It is higher in protein and lower in fat than either beef or chicken.
Behavior and Lifecycle
Mature red deer usually stay in single-sex groups for most of the year. During the mating season, called the rut, mature stags compete for the attentions of the hinds and will then try to defend the hinds they attract.
Rival stags challenge opponents by belling and walking in parallel. This allows combatants to assess each other's antlers, body size and fighting prowess. If neither stag backs down, a clash of antlers can occur, and stags sometimes sustain serious injuries.
Dominant stags follow groups of hinds during the rut, from August into early winter. The stags may have as many as 20 hinds to keep from other, less attractive males.
Only mature stags hold harems (groups of hinds) and breeding success peaks at about eight years of age. The male deer roars to keep his harem of females together.
Females in their second autumn can produce one or very rarely two offsprings per year. The gestation period is 240 to 262 days, and the offspring weigh about 15 kg.
All red deer calves are born spotted, as is common with many deer species, and lose their spots by the end of summer.
Red deer live over 20 years in captivity and in the wild they live 10 to 13 years, though some subspecies with less predation pressure average 15 years.
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