A deer is an animal of the type of chordates, a class of mammals, a detachment of hoofed animals, the reindeer (reindeer) family (Latin Cervidae). The article describes the family.
The deer got its modern name due to the Old Slavonic word “Helen”. So the ancient Slavs called the slender animal with branchy horns.
Deer: description and photo. What does an animal look like?
The sizes of representatives of the family are very different. The growth of the northern deer ranges from 0.8 to 1.5 meters, the body length is 2 meters, and the weight of the deer is about 200 kg. The little crested deer barely reaches 1 meter in length and weighs no more than 50 kg.
The most slender body is distinguished by a red deer, which has a proportional addition, an elongated neck and a light, slightly elongated head. The eyes of a deer are yellow-brown in color, with deep lacrimal sulcus near it. The broad forehead is slightly concave.
Some species of deer have thin, graceful limbs, others with short legs, but all are united by well-developed leg muscles and the presence of toes connected to the membranes.
Deer teeth are a good indicator of its age. The degree of grinding teeth and incisors, curvature and angle of inclination specialist can accurately determine the age of the deer.
All species, except for the hornless water deer, are distinguished by branched horns (which are called antlers), and only males are distinguished by such bone formations.
Reindeer are the only species of deer in which females, along with males, have horns, but of much smaller size.
Most deer species living in temperate latitudes shed their horns every year. In their place immediately begin to grow new, consisting initially of cartilage, then overgrowing with bone tissue. Deer horns grow depending on its nutrition: the denser the diet, the faster the horns grow. Deer that live in the tropics, for years do not shed their horns, and the inhabitants of the equatorial belt do not lose them at all.
The main function of the antlers of a deer is protection and attack, and the chances of a particular male individual to become the winner in a fight for a female deer depend on their power. Reindeer use horns as tools, digging out snow to get to the moss. The span of the horns of a hardened buck is 120 cm.
Deer sheds horns
And this deer has grown atypical horns
Deer skin is covered with fur, thin and short in summer, and in winter longer and thicker.
The color of the fur of a deer depends on the species and can be brown, coffee-brown, red-brown, brownish, gray, red, monophonic, with spots and markings.
Deer – an animal that is included in the twenty fastest.
The speed of a deer fleeing from a chase can reach 50-55 km / h.
Where do the deer live?
Deer live in countries of Europe and Asia, in Russia, feel at ease in the territory of North and South America, in Africa, in Australia and New Zealand. In the wild, the average life expectancy of a deer is 15-20 years. In zoos and deer farms with good care deer live up to 25-30 years.
Deer – animals, quite unpretentious to the habitat. They feel great on the plains, and in areas with mountainous terrain, and in wetlands, and in the zone of tundra mosses and lichens.
Many species inhabit precisely excessively wet places, choosing plots for living near ponds. Preferring mostly nomadic lifestyle, deer are found in the forests with their grassy glades in the summer, in the winter they wander into impenetrable thickets, because there are usually fewer snow drifts and it is easier to find food under a small layer of snow.
What do deer eat?
The deer is a herbivorous animal, the diet of which depends on the species and the range. In spring and early summer, deer feed on cereals, umbrellas, legumes. Summer food of deer – nuts, chestnuts, mushrooms, berries, plant seeds.
During the warm season, deer eat buds, leaves and young shoots of trees and shrubs: maple, mountain ash, aspen, viburnum. The deer does not refuse pears, apples and other fruits. In winter, deer are forced to eat the bark and branches of plants, needles, acorns and lichens.
The lack of minerals in the body of the animals is replenished with salt mined in saline soils, and they also chew on the ground rich in mineral salts and drink water from mineral springs. Replacing the protein deficiency, deer gnaw their own dropped horns and are forced to use bird eggs.
Types of deer names and photos
The modern classification of the deer family includes 3 subfamilies, 19 genera and 51 species. In addition to deer, the family is represented by fallow deer, pudu, roe deer, elk, as well as mazama, mutzhak, axis, zambar and barasing.
The most interesting varieties of deer are considered to be the following:
- Noble deer(lat. Cervus elaphus)
The real deer belongs to the genus and includes 15 subspecies. Representatives of the species are united by a characteristic white spot under the tail, which rises above the tailbone. In the color of red deer in summer there is no spotting. Deer horns are distinguished by a significant number of branches (especially in European deer), forming a characteristic crown at the end of each horns. Depending on the subspecies, the size of a deer can be 2.5 meters in length and 1.3-1.6 meters at the withers, with a weight over 300 kg (maral and wapiti). The little Bukhara deer weighs a little less than 100 kg and grows to 170-190 cm.
The diet of the animal in the spring-summer period consists of various legumes, grass and cereals. In winter, deer feed on shoots of shrubs and trees, fallen leaves, various fungi, chestnuts, and tree bark. With a lack of food deer can eat spruce or pine needles, lichens and acorns. Of great importance for the normal functioning of these mammals is the salt balance, which they maintain in natural or artificial salt marshes.
The noble deer lives on a fairly vast territory, covering Western European, Scandinavian countries, Algeria, the Moroccan Republic and China, as well as both the Americas, Australia and New Zealand. The main condition is the presence of a freshwater reservoir nearby. Red deer live on one particular territory in herds of up to 10 individuals, although after the mating season their numbers may increase to 30.
- Reindeer, or caribou(lat. Rangifer tarandus)
It stands out among the relatives of the upper lip, completely covered with hair and the presence of horns in individuals of both sexes. The body size of an adult male is 1.9-2.1 meters with a weight of 190 kg, the female reindeer (which also has the name important) grows to 1.6-1.9 m and weighs up to 123 kg. Reindeer is an animal of a squat build, lacking grace inherent in deer and having a slightly elongated skull shape.
Reindeer food: grass that grows in abundance in the tundra, leaves of shrubs, mushrooms, various berries. With a lack of protein nutrition, deer find birds’ nests and eat the bird eggs laid in them and even young chicks. Also, reindeer feed on small rodents – lemmings. The main feed of deer in the tundra in winter is moss moss. Reindeer compensate for the lack of minerals in poor food by eating their own horns, using sea water or visiting salt marshes.
Reindeer live in the tundra and taiga in Eurasia, North America and the islands of the Arctic Ocean. Numerous herds of reindeer inhabit the plains and mountainous taiga regions, graze on the boundless tundra and marshy expanses, making spring and winter migrations in search of food.
The female reindeer (gazelle) on the right and the male on the left.
- Water deer(lat. Hydropotes inermis)
The only hornless deer in the family. The size of the species is 75-100 cm in length, the height of the deer is 45-55 cm, body weight is 9-15 kg. An adult buck is distinguished by saber curved canines (teeth), prominently protruding from under the upper lip. The skin is colored brown.
The main food of the deer is shrub leaves, young green grass, as well as juicy river sedge. Animals cause significant damage to agriculture, making devastating raids on cultivated rice fields and destroying not only weeds, but also cultural shoots.
Under natural conditions, water deer inhabit the floodplains of the rivers of the eastern and central parts of the PRC and the Korean Peninsula. Hornless deer was introduced to England and France, where he successfully adapted to the local climate. These animals are solitary, finding a pair only for the rut period. In search of food, they swim several kilometers across the sea, migrating between numerous islands in river deltas.
- David’s Deer, or milu(lat. Elaphurus davidianus)
Rare species of deer, completely lost in nature in the early 20th century. Nowadays, the population is trying to recover in Chinese reserves, where the species existed originally. Representatives of the species found their name thanks to Armand David, a French priest and naturalist.
The body length of an adult deer is 150-215 cm, height at withers can reach 140 cm, and the weight of a deer reaches 150-200 kg. An exceptional feature of this species is that David’s deer change their horns twice a year. These animals have an elongated narrow head, atypical for deer, as well as long curly hair on the body.
David’s deer feed consists of grass, young branches and leaves of shrubs, sugarcane and various algae.
Unfortunately, under natural conditions, the habitat of this species is no longer observed. All known individuals live in reserves and zoos. David’s deer are animals leading a herd life. Even before and after the mating season, they prefer to keep in small groups, in which there are up to 10 individuals. During the rut for the right to have a harem of females, the males arrange real slaughter, using in the battle not only horns, but also teeth, as well as front limbs.
- White sea deer(lat. Przewalskium albirostris)
The animal has a large body up to 230 cm long and an impressive weight up to 200 kg. The height of the deer at the withers is 1.3 m. Its name, this species was due to the white color of the neck and the front of the head. A distinctive feature of the species are high wide hooves and large antlers of white color.
White-sided deer feeds on various grasses growing in the spacious alpine meadows. As food, animals are happy to eat numerous species of clover, meadowsweet, large-flowered flower, angelica and motley fescue. In addition, the leaves are often eaten from stunted shrubs.
White-faced deer lives mainly in the coniferous forests of eastern Tibet and some Chinese provinces. Animals are found in the mountainous areas of the Alps, located at an altitude of more than 3,500 meters above sea level. They form communities, the number of which does not exceed 20 individuals. In search of food, deer often migrate to an altitude of 5,000 m.
- Crested deer(lat. Elaphodus cephalophus)
The animal has a black-brown tuft on its head, up to 17 cm long. Adult deer grow to a size of 110-160 cm with a body weight of 17-50 kg. The color of the deer may be dark brown or dark gray. The horns are short and unbranched, barely visible from under the tuft.
In addition to the characteristic plant food, consisting of leaves of trees and shrubs, grass and various berries, crested deer often eat small carrion, which is the protein component of the diet.
Reindeer live in the territory of South and East Asia in the forests, spread out at an altitude of more than 4500 m. Very careful animals lead a secluded and isolated way of life. With representatives of the opposite sex are found only during the rut. They are most active in the dawn or dusk hours.
- Whitetail Deer (Virginian Deer)(lat. Odocoileus virginianus)
The most common member of the family lives in North America.
Received its name for an interesting color of the tail, the top of which is brown, and the bottom – white. The northern part of the population has a height in the withers up to 1 m, and a body weight of about 150 kg. Representatives of the population of the islands of the Florida Keys, grow at the withers to 60 cm and weigh only 35 kg.
In spring and summer, deer eat green shoots of shrubs or trees, lush grass, and flowering plants. In addition, they raid agricultural fields, which destroy crops of cereals. In the fall, deer feed on fruits, berries and nuts. In winter, these animals have to be content with fallen leaves and branches.
White-tailed deer live on mountain slopes and in spacious forests, as well as on the vast expanses of prairies and savannas in South and North America. Most of the time, virgin deer are solitary, gathering in small herds only for the duration of the mating season.
- Pork deer(Latin Axis porcinus)
Got its name for the original style of movement, reminiscent of the progress of the pig. The height of the deer at the withers is 70 cm, the length of the body is 110 cm, the weight of the deer is about 50 kg. The animal has a fluffy tail, the males are colored darker than the females.
There are deer in the flat landscapes of Pakistan, India, Thailand and other countries of South Asia. Also the species was introduced to Australia and the USA. These animals are solitary, rarely gathering in small herds.
Deer graze mainly at night, preferring to rest in the daytime, hiding in densely overgrown shrubs. The diet of a deer does not depend on the seasons and consists of a variety of herbs, as well as branches and leaves of low shrubs.
- South deer(Latin Hippocamelus bisulcus)
The animal has a stocky body and short legs, adapted for movement in mountain landscapes. The size of the deer is 1.4-1.6 m in length, weight reaches 70-80 kg. The height at the withers is 80-90 cm. The hair of the deer is colored brownish or gray-brown with white spots on the throat.
The deer live in the mountains of Chile and Argentina, where they live alone, gathering in small groups during the rut. Due to the sharp decline in the population, this species of deer is listed in the International Red Book.
The spring and summer diet of a deer consists of various grassy vegetation of meadows. In winter and during snowfall, they find food in the wooded valleys. Here, deer food consists of leaves and young branches of bushes and trees.
- Dappled deer(lat. Cervus nippon)
It grows in length up to 1.6-1.8 m with a weight of 75-130 kg. The size at the withers is 95-112 cm. The summer color of the deer is distinguished by a bright red-red color with white spot, in winter the color fades.
Sika deer eat not only mushrooms, nuts, leaves, and oak or alder shoots, but also a variety of herbs and berries. In winter, they find fallen leaves, grass and acorns last year. In the years of famine, the spotted deer feeds on the bark of deciduous trees. Individuals living near the sea coast eat eaten algae with pleasure and restore the body’s mineral balance with the help of sea salt.
Spotted deer lead a gregarious lifestyle, gathering in small groups of 10 to 20 individuals. The area of distribution of this species captures the flat, mountainous and foothill areas of the northern hemisphere. The spotted deer lives in the Far East, in central Russia and the Caucasus.
The largest member of the family
The largest mammal in the deer family is Moose (lat Alces alces). Adults can reach 2.3 meters in height at the withers and weigh 655 kg. The length of the body of a male moose is about 3 meters. The rather short body of the animal contrasts a little with the long legs on the wide hoofs.
The muzzle of the moose is more elongated compared to the rest of the deer family, with large fleshy lips. Regardless of the gender, the fur cover of animals is colored dark brown, with the belly and legs much lighter than the back and sides. Elk antlers have a flatter shape than other members of the genus. That is why the moose has the name “plowed”.
Elks live in many countries of the Northern Hemisphere, the range occupies an extensive strip from the northern borders of the tundra to the forest-steppe regions in southern Eurasia and North America. They live mainly in impassable thickets or wetlands, although they are looking for food on forest edges or along river banks. The diet of the elk is diverse and consists of herbs, mushrooms, berries, algae, tree branches and small bushes.
The smallest deer in the world
Pudu – the smallest deer in the world. In the genus Pudu, there are only two types: southern pudu (lat. pudu pudu) and Northern Pudu (Latin: Pudu mephistophiles). A pudu is a deer with a short body, the length of which rarely exceeds 90 cm, the height at the withers varies from 30 to 40 cm, the weight of the deer is from 7 to 10 kilograms, the length of the short horns is from 7 to 10 cm. The thick short hair of the deer is colored in brown. -brown shade, back and muzzle slightly darker, sometimes almost black.
There is a deer in the southern territories of Chile, Ecuador and Peru. It feeds on the smallest deer in the world with foliage and young branches of bushes and low trees. Large herds do not form, preferring to live alone, at least – in pairs.
What is the difference between elk and deer?
Although moose and deer belong to the same family, there are a number of significant differences between them.
- The antlers of elk and deer have differences: in elk they develop horizontally in relation to the surface of the earth and have wide shovel-like ramifications. Deer horns soar upward, and they are not so massive.
- Elk – the largest among the representatives of the deer. The weight of an elk can reach 655 kg. The weight of a deer does not exceed 350 kg, while in many species the average weight varies between 150 kg.
- The legs of the elk are taller and thinner than the legs of a deer.
- Differences are observed in the public organization of animals. Elks, unlike deer, never form herds, but live alone or in pairs.
Deer on the left, elk on the right
What is the difference between deer and roe deer?
From deer, which are also included in this family, these deer differ in the structure of the horns and manner of feeding.
- The surface of the horns of roe deer to the touch is rough and covered with various tubercles, moreover, they do not have branches, like the horns of a deer.
- Another significant difference between roe deer and deer is that roe deer will never eat the bark and branches of trees or shrubs, whereas for a deer it is a significant part of the diet.
- There is also a difference in feeding offspring. If deer feed calves standing up, then this process takes place in a lying position in roe deer.
Deer on the left, roe on the right
Basically, a deer is a gregarious animal, although some species lead a solitary lifestyle and look for a pair only during the rut.
A herd of deer, consisting of females and calves, during the mating period, is headed by a male, protecting his harem group from rivals. The deer rut in most European species begins in autumn and continues until the beginning of winter.
The roar of a deer in the mating season can be heard at a great distance. Often there are clashes between males, when rivals converge in horns, in an attempt to knock an opponent down. A weaker opponent quickly backs down. Hornless deer bucks do not take part in tournaments, but are trying to slowly get into a foreign harem.
Puberty in deer comes early: the female deer is ready for fertilization at the age of 1.5 years, the males mature by 2-3 years. Depending on the species, deer pregnancy lasts 6 to 9 months.
Female deer for childbirth chooses a safe place. One deer is born, in rare cases twins. The color of most species of newborn deer is spotted, which is an excellent disguise and protection in the first year of life.
Barely born, a baby deer can already stand on its feet. A month later, the little deer begins to independently pluck grass and young shoots of plants, but continues to feed on mother’s milk, often the entire first year of life.
At the age of one year old male deer make small knobs (horns) on their foreheads, destined to become the first horns without branches. In the following seasons, the number of branches continues to grow, and each new deer antler becomes more massive and stronger.