Deers: who are they? What characterizes them?


There are the deer that we know because they don’t live far from where we live, but there are also those that we know less because they live on other continents. We invite you to explore this large family, made up of 44 different species, hoping to surprise you.

What characterizes deer

Cervids are all ruminants herbivores. They share this characteristic with bovids. This means that their stomachs are divided into several compartments and they practice delayed chewing.

Another characteristic is that adult male deer carry wood, bony growths that fall out and grow back every year. They mainly serve as a secondary sexual character.

There are, however, a few exceptions:

  • In reindeer, females also carry antlers, but their dimensions are more modest,
  • The hydropote does not carry antlers, but it is the only deer in this situation.
  • The group of deer present in Europe and Asia,
  • That of deer that appeared in the Arctic and today spread over the whole of America,
  • And the group comprising the red deer, reindeer and elk, due to a more extensive presence towards the North.
  • of closable nostrils underwater, allowing it to leave its head submerged for a minute to graze,
  • a prominent upper jaw that allows it to remove bark from trees.

Cervids can be classified into three groups, depending on their geographic presence:

We present here some species to reflect the great diversity of the lifestyles of this large family of animals.
Canada’s momentum

It is the biggest present-day deer. Males weigh between 500 and 700 kg for 2.30 m height at the withers. It is immediately recognizable by the shape of its antlers, flattened and forming a fan. These can exceed 1.60 m in width and weigh 20 kg.

It belongs to the genre Alces. It is called “elk” when it lives in Siberia and Scandinavia, and “moose” when it lives in North America. Present since prehistoric times, it has survived three glaciations. It has two particularities:

These anatomical characteristics correspond to its diet: young branches, shoots and leaves of willow and birch which make up 50% of its summer diet and 80% of its winter diet, supplemented by aquatic plants, tree bark and cones.

The southern Pudu

The Pudu (pronounced “Poudou”) of the south east the smallest cervid. It is found in the humid forests of the temperate zones of Argentina and Chile. The body of an adult is between 60 and 85 cm long and 25 to 43 cm high at the withers only, with males displaying antlers limited to 10 cm. The legs are proportionately very short. It feeds on the leaves of shrubs that it has to catch by standing on its hind legs, because of its small size, but also on ferns and fruits that have fallen to the ground.

It is a solitary animal, very fearful, prey to many predators such as jaguars and pumas. Its only defense strategy is camouflage thanks to its reddish-brown coat. It is classified as a vulnerable species because it is threatened as much by the degradation of its habitat, as by intensive hunting or the introduction of roe deer and fallow deer on its territory, constituting strong competition for food.

Red deer

This species of deer is one of the best known in Europe. It is however present well beyond, also inhabiting the temperate forests of North Africa, North America and Asia.

Red deer have a harmonious silhouette, measuring 1.10 m to 1.50 m in height at the withers. Its weight varies considerably depending on the subspecies, age, sex and region of habitat. He is known for the power of his slab, issued to attract females and ward off rivals during the breeding season.

Pig deer

It is a small deer, with a size at the withers between 66 and 75 cm for a weight varying between 30 and 50 kg. It occurs between Pakistan and Southeast Asia, in reed beds of flood plains and high grasslands. It is the prey of tigers, dholes (Asian wild dogs) and leopards. It is also to escape them that he rests during the day, looking for food at dusk. It owes its name to its habit of digging in the forest floor, like pigs, to look for the roots that make up its food, along with herbs.

The sambar

It is one of the largest deer and it is the largest of those found in Asia with its 1.20 to 1.60 m high at the withers. It is more precisely found in South Asia. Its legs are long and slender. Its antlers, which can reach 1.20 m, are also characteristic: rough and systematically having 3 antlers. It is the only cervid whose fawns are not speckled with white. He likes to bathe several hours a day. Herbs, young leaves, tender buds, twigs, reeds, lichens, mosses and fruits make up its menu. He also often goes to the rice fields at dusk to eat the plants. Not very shy, it is easy prey for the panther, the crocodile, the dhole and the tiger.

The hydropote

The hydropote is also called water deer, swamp deer or vampire deer. It is a small deer present in China and Korea, without antlers. Its name of vampire deer is due to its long upper canines which descend to under the chin. Its other names refer more to the fact that it lives in humid areas where it finds aquatic plants for food. Another peculiarity, the female hydropote is the only deer to carry four pacifiers instead of two because, while other deer have litters of one or two fawns, those of the hydropote are larger and can have up to six or eight young.

The axis deer

Also called chital, the axis deer is found in the wooded regions of India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal. He is known for his harmonious cohabitation with the monkeys. These drop leaves, seeds and fruits on which the deer feeds which, in return, warns him of the dangers.

It is a pretty animal because its coat is red and covered with small white spots on the back and sides. It is gregarious, living in groups of 20 to 50 individuals. It escapes its predators thanks to its running speed which reaches 65 km / h. He is also able to make leaps of nearly 2 meters high.

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