Hoofed animals that are members of the Cervidae family, deer live on all but two continents. From moose and caribou to the Visayan spotted deer, deer are found in tropical climates and open prairies as well as in Arctic areas and open grasslands.
Red Deer Buck
Scientific & Common Names
Deer are mammals that belong to the Cervidae family. There are more than 100 types of deer all across the world. This category covers reindeer, elk, and moose as well as a wide range of other types of deer.
Deer are ruminants, meaning that they have a chambered stomach and they chew their cud to digest grasses and other plant matter. All male deer have antlers, except for the Chinese water deer, which has tusks instead. The only female deer that grows antlers is the caribou, or reindeer. Deer often have long, elegant necks, graceful movements, and powerful hindquarters. Almost all deer have shades of brown fur on their bodies, which helps camouflage them in the deep shadows of grasslands and forests. However, reindeer can be a silvery white. The largest deer is the moose, which can weigh up to 1,800 pounds, and the smallest deer is the Pudu puda, which only weighs 20 pounds at maturity.
Most deer mate in the fall or winter and give birth in the spring. The males usually fight one another with their antlers for mating privileges. Does (female deer) give birth to one or two fawns (baby deer) and feed them milk. Mother deer hide their babies to keep them safe from predators. Fawns stay with their mothers for six months to two years, depending on the species of deer. Each year, the male's antlers will fall off after the breeding season and begin to grow back in the spring.
Deer can adapt to many different types of climate and terrain. However, they prefer to live in "edge zones." These are the breaks between two different types of terrain, such as the borders of a forest with nearby fields where the deer can feed. Deer often are crepuscular, meaning that they are most active in the morning and evening. They bed down in the hot part of the day and in the dark of night.
At one time in history, various species of deer filled the North American continent with grazing herds of caribou, moose, and white-tailed deer. However, since the Europeans arrived on the continent, habitat destruction and hunting pressure has eliminated huge numbers of deer.
Deer are plentiful, even though there are not as many in the wild as there once were. Deer are found on every continent except for Antarctica and Australia.