Red Deer

New Forest Wildlife Park 2023 101

Latin name - Cervus elaphus scoticus

Class - Mammalia

Order - Cetartiodactyla

Family - Cervidae

IUCN Status - Least concern

Habitat - Lowland and highland grasslands, moorland, forests, tundra

Distribution - Asia, Europe, Russia also introduced to many countries

New Forest Wildlife Park 2023 103

General information

The Red Deer is the UK’s largest land mammal and is native to our shores.The autumn rut is an impressive wildlife spectacle when the males size each other up by roaring and strutting, at first without violence, but this can soon escalate to fighting with interlocked antlers, sometimes with fatal results.

A stag can weigh up to 240 kgs and a hind up to 170 kgs. Only the stag has antlers which start to grow in spring but shed at the end of winter the following year. The antlers are composed of bone which is protected by a layer of velvet as it grows at about 2.5cm per day. Once fully grown and before entering the rut, the velvet will begin to peel off leaving hard antler for the stag to compete with. A mature Stag will attach himself to a herd of females to mate with while fending off any rival stags. After mating with the dominant stag, a hind will have a gestation period of around 8 months, and then give birth to 1 or 2 white spotted calves. Outside of the rut, stags will form small bachelor herds while the hinds and their calves will form herds of their own.

Average Lifespan

15 to 20 years

Habitat loss.

Fun Fact

A Red Stag’s antlers are called branch antlers as they resemble the branches of a tree.

Keeper Notes

Our Red Deer Herd is headed up by a magnificent Stag called Maverick, who joined us in 2022. The hinds are of different origins, some are as rescues, others are from UK deer parks. This helps maintain a healthy bloodline. Unfortunately, our native wild red deer can cross-breed with Japanese Sika. Various conservation groups are trying to control this serious issue in the UK.

NFWP Lowerres 07945

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