RED DEER - Cervus elaphus

Biological classification

Mammalia

Cervidae

                                       General information

The red deer is one of the largest deer species. The red deer is typically 185 to 215 cm long, weighs 160 to 170 kg and 1.2-1.5 m height at the withers. Females are much smaller than males and usually colored differently. Summer coat is short and winter it is almost twice longer and thicker. Bright spot on the back of the body (mirror") is rusty-colored in summer and in winter it is white with a rusty tinge.

Only the stags have antlers, which start growing in the spring and are shed each year, usually at the end of winter. Antlers weight might reach 15 kg. A soft covering known as velvet helps to protect newly forming antlers in the spring. The antlers are testosterone-driven and as the stag's testosterone levels drop in the autumn, the velvet is shed and the antlers stop growing. With the approach of autumn, the antlers begin to calcify and the stags' testosterone production builds for the approaching rut (mating season).

In captivity deers live 25 27 years, sometimes even 30. In the wild it is usually only 12 14 years.

Deer prefer wooded highlands. The red deer are spread across Europe and Asia to the Manchurian mountains. In Europe most of them are living in Austria and Hungary. In Ukraine red deer live in the Carpathians and Crimea.

On flatlands deer live settled in herds of 10 or more goals in relatively small areas. Mixed herd of deer (not during the rut) often led by an old female surrounded by her children of all ages. Basicallt size of such herd reaches 3 6 goals. In spring these flocks break up.

Deer feed on grass, cereals, legumes, leaves, buds, shoots, bark and acorns.

Red deer mating patterns usually involve a dozen or more mating attempts before the first successful one. There may be several more matings before the stag will seek out another mate in his harem. Red deer are among mammals exhibiting homosexual behavior. Females in their second autumn can produce one or very rarely two offspring per year. The gestation period is 240 to 262 days, and the offspring weigh about 15 kg (33 lb). After two weeks, fawns are able to join the herd and are fully weaned after two months. All red deer fawns are born spotted, as is common with many deer species, and lose their spots by the end of summer.

Red deer in Kyiv zoo

Currently five deer are living in Kyiv zoo. All deer were born in our zoo. Their enclosure is located in the center of the "Ungulates raw." During the whole year they are on exhibition. In September and October a male deer naturally begins to roar. The mating season starts. Just like other males he throws the horns in winter, and before fall they grow again. Visit the zoo and see our deer family.

The diet of deer in Kyiv zoo consists of fresh summer grass and branches. In winter they get hay, dry dry branches and vegetables. Also enjoy the salt.

RED DEER - Cervus elaphus