10 Fun Facts about Red Deer
As one of the most iconic and majestic animals in Scotland, Red Deer are a true symbol of the Scottish Highlands, and we just can't get enough of them. Here are ten interesting facts about these incredible creatures that we think you'll love.
1. Scottish Red Deer are the largest land mammal in Britain.
The largest stags can weigh up to 500 pounds and stand more than 4.5 feet tall at the shoulder. That's an impressive size! Our largest stag Zoom is 4.5 feet tall and our younger stag Rounders is 4 feet.
2. Red Deer are very social animals and are known for living in herds.
These herds are typically matriarchal, meaning that the females lead the group. At Highland Safaris the herd tend to move around together without a particular leader – unless there is food around, then our oldest hind Poppy is most definitely in charge!
3. In the wild Red Deer can live up to 20 years old but on average tend to live until 14 or 15.
That's a lot of time to roam the hills and glens of Scotland. Our oldest deer are Zoom who is 16 years old and Poppy who is 15 years old. In captivity deer tend to live longer for several reasons – access to food, medical care and protection from external threats.
4. Red Deer are herbivores.
In the wild, they will eat a variety of plants, leaves and heather, which is abundant in the Scottish Highlands. Here at Highland Safaris they eat a diet of grass and hay. In the winter they are also given pony nuts, which are a high-fibre feed and provide a good balance of vitamins and minerals.
5. Red Deer are known for their antlers.
These antlers can grow up to a meter long and are used by males to defend their herd of females from other stags.
Stags shed their antlers each year around Springtime. This is a process known as antler casting. The antlers can weigh up to 20 pounds (9 kg) and require a lot of energy to grow, so shedding them allows the deer to conserve energy for other activities such as mating and foraging. Once the antlers are shed, the stags regrow them from the base and the process starts all over again.
6. Red Deer are known for their distinctive mating calls, which are called roars or bellows.
They can be heard across the hills and valleys of Scotland during the autumn months. During the mating season, also known as the rut, stags use these calls to attract hinds, and to establish dominance over other males. The roars are deep, and resonant, and can be heard from a distance of up to 2 miles. The stags often roar repeatedly in a series of vocalizations, creating a haunting and impressive sound. The frequency and intensity of the roars can also indicate the stag's size and strength, making them a crucial part of the mating ritual.
From September to November you can often hear our stags roaring.
During the mating season, stags also urinate a substance like musk, which has a strong-smellingodour. Male deer use this as a form of communication to signal their presence to females and other males in the area.
7. Antlers and horns are not the same thing
Antlers are made from bone and shed each year. Horns are made from keratin (the same as nails and hair) and are permanent. Antlers are also branched structures, whilst horns are typically straight or slightly curved.
8. Red Deer fur goes hollow in the wintertime
The fur of red deer, like many other mammals, goes hollow in the winter to provide better insulation against the cold.
During the winter months, temperatures can drop significantly, and it is essential for red deer to be able to retain body heat in order to survive. The hollow hairs in the deer's fur trap a layer of insulating air close to the animal's body, which helps to keep it warm.
9. Hinds move away from their herd to calve
This is the only time a hind will move away from the herd. It is done instinctively to protect the calf and ensure it is strongenough to move around on its own. At Highland Safaris it is usually around 2 weeks before the calf is introduced to the herd.
10. Calves are born with spots
These spots provide camouflage from potential predators. As the calf grows the coat becomes darker. When a calf gets their first winter coat the spots disappear.
Want to meet these majestic creatures up close? Our Red Deer Experience gives you the chance to feed, stroke and photograph our deer. Our knowledgeable Safari Ranger will tell you about their fascinating life cycle, likes, dislikes, habits, and personalities.Back to Blog Page