ANSWERS ALL QUESTIONS ABOUT DEER
January 22, 2012
fight? Do they engage in play? Do they make vocalizations? According
to a new book, "Deer: The Animal Answer Guide" (2012) by George
A. Feldhamer and William J. McShea, as is often true in science, the
answer to all three questions is a qualified yes, or in other words,
it depends. In this case, it depends in part on which of the approximately
50 species of deer you are referring to.
is the latest in the highly informative Animal Answer Guide series published
by Johns Hopkins University Press. As with other books in the series,
answers are provided for more than 100 questions about the animals under
discussion, in this case, deer. In the section on behavior, the authors
explain that young ones are the most likely to engage in play, either
among themselves or with their mother. Yearling males of some species
will engage in mock battles with older males. The most dramatic real
fights occur between antlered males that charge head-on at each other
during the mating season. White-tailed deer, the well-known species
of the eastern United States, are not noted for making sounds beyond
snorts and grunts, but some deer do produce vocalizations. Bull elk
in the western United States, which are considered by many mammalogists
to be the same species as the red deer of Europe, and fallow deer of
the Middle East make a bugling sound during the mating season. Old World
roe deer bark when danger threatens.
the largest and smallest species of deer? American elk bulls are huge,
averaging close to a half ton with a shoulder height near five feet.
Bull moose are even larger. The largest moose on record weighed more
than 1,800 pounds and stood over seven feet high at the shoulder. On
a much smaller scale, white-tailed bucks average about four feet at
the shoulder and few reach 300 pounds. The smallest deer in the world,
being a little over 12 inches high and weighing in at less than 20 pounds,
is a tiny creature called the southern pudu of South America. Male deer
of most species are larger than females.
antlers is one of the traits that make deer distinctive from horned
animals in the antelope family, including cows, goats, sheep, and bison.
Antlers differ from horns in several notable ways. First, antlers are
made of bone that branches as it grows out from the skull each year.
Antlers are deciduous, typically being shed in the winter and regrowing
in spring and summer. Horns in contrast are made of fibrous material
that does not branch and that keeps growing for the life of the animal.
Also, females as well as males in many members of the antelope family
have horns. Caribou (reindeer) are the only species of deer in which
prominent antlers are characteristically found in both sexes. The Chinese
water deer is the only species without antlers. Instead, males of these
small deer have scary looking canine teeth that can be up to three inches
long and project downward from the upper jaw.
of the Animal Answer Guide series, the book is divided into a dozen
chapters with topics such as food and feeding, deer and humans, and
deer in art and literature. Likewise, the authors answer many frequently
asked questions about deer. For example, can deer see color? how high
can deer jump? and should people feed deer? In brief, the answers are
deer can see part of the color spectrum but probably not "the blaze-orange
color that hunters wear"; a white-tailed deer can jump a fence
eight feet high; and generally, no, people should not feed wild deer.
also answer some not so frequently asked questions, such as what should
I do if I find a fawn? and how will deer be affected by global climate
change? To find the answers to these and many other questions, get a
copy of "Deer: The Animal Answer Guide" from a bookstore or
your local library.
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