Sika Deer

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General information

The name Sika comes from “shika”, the Japanese word for deer.

The Sika Deer is similar in size and colouration to the Fallow Deer, with white spots in the summer and a darker coat in the winter. The main differentiation between a Sika and a Fallow is a smaller head, shorter tail and a distinctive white heart shape on their bottom. Sika stags have stout upright antlers and the females have 2 distinctive black bumps on their forehead. Their diet consists of grasses, heather, shoots, sedges and occasionally tree bark. Unfortunately this invasive deer species and our native red deer can mate, which is a serious conservation concern due to hybridisation.

Males and females will live separately for the majority of the year until the rut begins (breeding season). The rut takes place from September to November, where males will compete for or defend their females. This is then followed by a gestation period of 7½ months where a female will then have one calf. This calf will reach independence by 10 to 12 months old.

Sika Deer

Latin name - Cervus nippon

Class - Mammalia

Order - Cetartiodactyla

Family - Cervidae

IUCN Status - Least concern

Habitat - Woodlands, forests, heaths, meadows, parkland etc

Distribution - Native to East Asia but introduced to many countries including UK

Average Lifespan

15 years

Habitat loss, water pollution and poaching.

Fun Fact

In the 1900’s, King Edward VII gifted the Baron Montagu of Beaulieu a pair of Sika Deer. It is some of their progeny that escaped and now populate the New Forest.

Our Residents

In the Deer Encounter, we have one Sika Deer hind. Saffy joined us after being involved in a road traffic accident in 2014, needing a permanent home.

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