40+ Interesting Facts About Deer

  1. Deer are divided into two groups, cervinae (the Old World deer) and capreolinae (the New World deer). Both these groups have separate foot structures.
  2. Male deer of all species, except the Chinese water deer, have antlers. Both male and female reindeer have antlers.
  3. Deer antlers are the fastest-growing tissue in any mammal that grow an inch per day. In addition to fighting, deer also use antlers for digging ground in search of food. (Source)
  4. Deer shed and re-grow antlers every year. The growth of new antlers can take up to 150 days in a few species.
  5. The largest antler ever recorded belonged to the extinct Irish elk or giant deer. The male had antlers that span up to 3.6 m (11ft. 9.7 in.). This deer vanished around 11,700 years ago. The largest deer species was the broad-fronted stag moose, with height and weight up to 2.5 m (8 ft. 2 in.) and 1,200 kg. It perished at least 0.21 million years ago. (Source)
  6. Deer grow antlers by using a growth hormone, antler velvet. The velvet dies after the growth of antlers, and the deer remove the velvet by rubbing it on trees.
  7. Antlers are different from horns, present in several bovids. Horns are permanent that grow continuously.
  8. Musk deer and mouse deer are not true deer. Both of these mammals are part of different families.
  9. Deer shed their antlers after the mating season and re-grow them before the start of the next mating season. Males use them to fight among themselves and display them in front of females.
  10. Deer meat, or venison, is healthy and nutritious. It contains almost the same amount of protein but less fat than beef.
  11. New Zealand is the largest producer of venison. Poland and Germany are the other top venison producers. (Source)
  12. More than 1 million vehicle accidents occur in the USA yearly due to collisions with deer. These accidents result in around 200 deaths, 29,000 injuries, and a $1 billion monetary loss. (Source)
  13. Deer prefer forested habits. However, they are present in numerous environments due to their adaptability features. They are widespread in deciduous forests, rainforests, grasslands, wetlands, mountains, and tundra. They can live comfortably near human settlements.
  14. There are more than 40 deer species. Some well-known species are red deer, white-tailed deer, sika deer, elk, barasingha, reindeer (caribou), and moose.
  15. The largest deer among extant species is the Alaskan moose. The largest ever recorded was a bull with 2.34 m (7 ft. 8 in.) height and 816 kg weight. (Source)
  16. Deer are native to all continents except Antarctica and Australia. A few species have been introduced in non-native areas.
  17. The Barbary stag is the only native deer species in Africa. It is a subspecies of red deer and is present in the northern parts of Africa, especially in the Atlas Mountains.
  18. All deer species share several physical features. These include long and thin legs, two hooves on each foot, a four-chambered stomach, and a red, brown, or grey coat color.
    A male fallow deer standing on grass
    Fallow deer have the largest antlers relative to body size

  19. Fallow deer have the largest antlers relative to their body size. They also have the largest antlers among Old World deer and are the only Old World deer with flat antlers.
  20. The northern and southern pudu are the smallest deer species. The adult pudu reaches a length of 12 to 17 inches. They are present in Chile and other western parts of South America.
  21. Deer fawns have white spots on their skin that provide camouflage against predators. The absence of scent provides further protection to fawns. (Source)
  22. Deer molt twice a year in winter and summer. During this process, the hair coat color and structure change according to the weather requirement. The process completes in several weeks.
  23. Deer have thin yet strong legs. They assist the animal in running fast, jumping high, and swimming. They also use their front legs to fight in the absence of antlers.
  24. Deer are selective herbivores that consume plants with high protein, low fiber, and easy digestibility. They prefer herbs, lichens, fruits, aquatic plants, buds, young grasses, etc. The reason for this selective diet is their requirement to grow antlers that need additional energy, protein, and minerals.
  25. Deer can sometimes eat meat to fulfill their requirements for minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, and salt. They have been seen eating the flesh and bones of fish, live birds, dead rabbits, and humans. (Source)
  26. Few deer species have scent glands on their legs. However, they lack glands in some areas present in other animals (anus, vulva, etc.).
  27. All deer species are without a gallbladder. Few other animals such as whales, elephants, rhinos, camels, rats, doves, and some fish also lack this organ. 
  28. Deer have tapetum lucidum in their eyes that enhances night vision by increasing the use of available light. Their eyes cover a 310-degree angle compared to 180 degrees in humans due to their wide position on the head. However, this wide angle reduces depth perception in vision.
  29. Deer can easily see colors in the blue-green electromagnetic spectrum, but cannot see various shades of red, yellow, and green. It is the reason that they are active from dusk to dawn.
  30. There are different sizes and shapes of antlers according to the species and age of deer. A few species have small antlers throughout their lives. Others have small or medium-sized antlers in childhood, and their size increases in adulthood. (Source)
  31. Like humans, most deer also have 32 teeth. Some deer species have 34 teeth due to two additional upper canines.
  32. Deer can spread several diseases in humans. These include Q fever, salmonellosis, leptospirosis, etc. Taking safety measures can prevent the transmission of these diseases. (Source)
  33. Deer initially appeared on earth between 15 and 20 million years ago. According to estimates, New World deer emerged separately nearly 5 million years ago.  
  34. Deer velvet antlers supplements are used for athletic performance, osteoarthritis, better sexual function, etc. Studies prove the benefit of these supplements for osteoarthritis. (Source)
  35. Deer can become pests in native and non-native areas due to a lack of predators. They have proved harmful to the environment in the USA, Australia, and New Zealand.
  36. Deerskin is a valuable material due to its durability and softness. It is used in preparing gloves, coats, shoes, and luxury handbags.
    Skin of a roe deer
    Dearskin is soft and durable

  37. Deer’s sense of smell is more than 500 times better than that of humans. They use this sense to avoid predators and for communication through pheromones.
  38. Deer are social animals that live in herds of up to 100,000 members. A dominant male deer leads the herd on most occasions. However, sometimes there are separate herds for males and females.
  39. Most of the deer species are polygamous. However, the European roe deer and a few others are monogamous.
  40. Reindeer are the only domesticated deer species. They are beneficial as pack animals. The efforts to domesticate other species largely failed due to their wild nature.
  41. According to IUCN, a few deer species and subspecies are endangered. These include hog deer, Calamian deer, Persian fallow deer, and some others.
  42. Deer can live up to 10 years in the wild. However, their average lifespan is around five years. Deer under protection can live for 20 years or more.
  43. Apart from humans, a large number of carnivores hunt and eat deer. These include mountain lions, lynxes, wolves, coyotes, alligators, birds of prey, etc.

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