Scientific name: Cervus elaphus
Our largest land mammals, red deer, are majestic animals that can be spotted throughout the UK. During the autumn you will hear the guttural roars and clashing of antlers as this is the height of the breeding season where the males compete to mate.
- Family: Mamals - Cervidae
- Length: 1.7 - 2m
- Height: 1.37m
- Weight: 70 - 225kg
- Average lifespan: 16 - 18yr’s
- Population (UK): 360,000
The Red deer is the UK largest land mammal and is found throughout the UK. They are one of the UK’s native deer species (there are only 2!) and migrated to Britain from mainland Europe roughly 11,000 years ago.
When out and about you can easily spot them, from their rusty red colouration and cream rump, the males (stags) will be sporting a large branched set of antlers that will increase in size with age. They usually shed these in the late winter.
When fully grown, stags weigh between 90 to 190kg and stand at around 1.07 to 1.37m tall at the shoulder. Females (hinds) are slightly more dainty and weigh 63 to 120kg and stand up to 1.07 – 1.22m at the shoulder.
Undoubtedly the breeding season (Sept – Nov) has to be the highlight of the year. This is commonly known as the “rut”. During this time stags will try and defend a group of hinds to gain the rights to mate. You should be able to witness roaring, parallel walking and possibly fighting between equally sized stags.
Hinds gives birth to a single calf after an eight-month gestation, between mid-May to mid-July. The calves will be born with a spotted coat, which will have moulted after they have weaned
Where to see
Red deer are easiest to spot in open habitat and are a regular sight in the Scottish Highlands. However, the best way to see the species is in the many deer parks that exist across the UK.
- New Forest, Hampshire
- Isle of Jura
- Gosford forest park
- Bradgate park
- Richmond Park
- Galloway Forest Park
Note that this isn’t an exhaustive list. I highly recommend undertaking your own research and planning your trips especially during the Autumn when the rut starts.
Red Deer Facts
- Deer in woodland are bigger than those in more open habitats because of the higher quality of food available.
- Their summer diet consists of grasses, sedges and rushes, with dwarf-shrubs such as heather and blaeberry being more important in winter.
- Antler growth varies according to conditions but may be as high as six centimetres (2.5 inches) per day in mature stags living in good conditions
- A Red deer with 12 points (six per antler) to his antler is called a “Royal stag”, while 14 points make an “Imperial stag” and an animal with 16 points or more is referred to as a “Monarch”