Meet the Model – Robbie the Red Deer

IMG_1908Say hello to Robbie , a fine example of a native British Red Deer ( Cervus elaphus )

The Red Deer is one of only two true native deer species in the British Isles , with the other wild deer species having been introduced for food and hunting. Red deer are Britain’s largest native land mammal , with a male (stags) standing 107-137cm at the shoulder and weighing 90-190kg. Adult females (hinds) reach a height of 107-122cm at the shoulder and weigh 63-120kg.

The breeding season, or rut, occurs from the end of September. Stags compete for the right to mate with the hinds with displays of dominance including roaring, parallel walks and fighting. Occasionally serious injury and death can result from fighting but this is rare and only occurs between stags of similar size . The dominant stag then ensures exclusive mating with the hinds. Despite being sexually mature before their second birthday , only stags over five years old tend to mate. Hinds give birth to a single calf after an eight-month gestation, between mid-May to mid-July.

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Red deer prefer woodland and forest habitats, but they can adapt to open moorland and hills as they have in parts of Scotland and south-west England. Red deer can be found in the Scottish Highlands, Lake District, East Anglia and the south-west of England, and can also be found in the north of England, north Midlands, East Anglia, the New Forest and Sussex.

Red deer graze on grasses and dwarf shrubs , heather and bilberry. Grazing of agricultural crops puts red deer in conflict with farmers and foresters due to economic damage. Conversely, many country and forest estates can gain substantial revenue from recreational deer stalking . As well as being farmed for their venison red deer are also kept as ornamental park species in the UK.

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The Stags antlers grows from an attachment on the skull called a pedicle, which develops in the first year. Young Red Deer with their first set of short, simple, unbranched antlers are referred to as brockets; thereafter the antlers continue to grow in length, weight and number of tines until around the seventh year, when the full classical head of antlers should be developed. A Red Deer stag in his prime may carry up to 16 points on his antlers. The following terms are given to Red Deer antlers to denote the number of tines on the head:

Royal Stag – 12 points
Monarch – 13 points or more
Imperial Stag – 14 points
Red Deer Facts

Life expectancy , in the wild up to 15 years , slightly longer in deer parks. Body Length , 160cm – 210cm with and average weight of 150kg for a stag . Young , normally one calf, born May or June. UK Population , estimated to be 320,000

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