Red Deer

Cervus elaphus

Meet Cerise, Scarlet, Auburn, Rose, Ruby, and Merlot the red deer. These friendly, large, and greedy deer will always come running over to visitors for some food!

Species Information

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Red deer can be found in the UK and is also native across Europe, parts of western Asia, and the northly tips of Africa. They have been introduced globally though, in Australasia and the Americas. They prefer covered areas, such as woodlands, but they also have adapted to living in more open habitats, such as moors, hills, and even mountains!

These large deer measure over 1.7m in height an 2m in length. Their name derives from their red-brown fur colour. Females do not grow antlers and weigh up to 120kg, but males show off branched antlers which can measure a metre in breadth and can weigh up to 225kg! Antlers cast in early spring and are regrown before the breeding season, in September.

Red deer are grazers, mainly eating grasses. During times of food shortages, such as in winter, they will also consume shrubs and browse.

15 – 20 years in the wild but up to 30 years in human care.

Red deer are often solitary when hidden within woodland habitats. However, they are more frequently found in large single-sex groups when inhabiting open habitats. There is no set pattern to their behaviour, being active at all points during a 24-hour cycle but are most active at dawn and dusk. Deer living in open habitats are usually more active during the darker hours.

A male or ‘stag’ will go into a rut during the breeding season between September to November. Stags will compete with one another by roaring and fighting using their antlers. Usually, a dominance between two stags is apparent early and the fighting is short lived. However, similar sized stags can continue to fight until serious injury or even death occurs. The dominant male will continue to fight off any other competing males, to ensure exclusive mating rights with up to 70 females or ‘hinds’. A fawn or calf is born after a gestation period of eight months.

Least Concern on the IUCN Red List. Their main threat has been the hunting from humans, environmental modification due to agricultural expansion and urbanisation, and introduced pathogens from invasive species.

Red deer calves are born spotted because it helps them to remain camouflage or blend in with the scenery as the spots mimic patches of sunlight shining through the surrounding forage! They moult and lose their spots by the end of their first summer.