Subtle differences in appearance are noted between the various subspecies of red deer, primarily in size and antlers, with the smallest being the Corsican red deer found on the islands of Corsica and Sardinia and the largest being the Caspian red deer  or maral of Asia Minor and the Caucasus Region to the west of the Caspian Sea. The deer of central and western Europe vary greatly in size, with some of the largest deer found in the Carpathian Mountains in Central Europe.
Large red deer stags, like the Caspian red deer or those of the Carpathian Mountains, may rival the wapiti in size. Female red deer are much smaller than their male counterparts. At the other end of the scale, the Corsican red deer C. The males of many subspecies also grow a short neck mane during the autumn. The male deer of the British Isles and Norway tend to have the thickest and most noticeable manes. Male Caspian red deer C. Male deer of all subspecies, however, tend to have stronger and thicker neck muscles than female deer, which may give them an appearance of having neck manes.
Red deer hinds females do not have neck manes. The European red deer is adapted to a woodland environment. Only the stags have antlers , which start growing in the spring and are shed each year, usually at the end of winter. A soft covering known as velvet helps to protect newly forming antlers in the spring. European red deer antlers are distinctive in being rather straight and rugose, with the fourth and fifth tines forming a "crown" or "cup" in larger males. Any tines in excess of the fourth and fifth tine will grow radially from the cup, which are generally absent in the antlers of smaller red deer, such as Corsican red deer.
Western European red deer antlers feature "bez" second tines that are either absent or smaller than the brow tines.
However, bez tines occur frequently in Norwegian red deer. Antlers of Caspian red deer carry large bez tines and form less-developed cups than western European red deer, their antlers are thus more like the "throw back" top tines of the wapiti C. A stag can exceptionally have antlers with no tines, and is then known as a switch. Similarly, a stag that does not grow antlers is a hummel.
During the autumn, all red deer subspecies grow thicker coats of hair, which helps to insulate them during the winter. Autumn is also when some of the stags grow their neck manes. By the time summer begins, the heavy winter coat has been shed; the animals are known to rub against trees and other objects to help remove hair from their bodies.
Red deer have different colouration based on the seasons and types of habitats, with grey or lighter colouration prevalent in the winter and more reddish and darker coat colouration in the summer. Cervus genus ancestors of red deer first appear in fossil records 12 million years ago during the Miocene in Eurasia.
The red deer is the largest non-domesticated land mammal still existing in Ireland. In the Netherlands, a large herd ca. Ireland has its own unique subspecies. In France the population is thriving, having multiplied fivefold in the last half-century, increasing from 30, in to approximately , in The deer has particularly expanded its footprint into forests at higher altitudes than before. The University of Edinburgh found that, in Scotland, there has been extensive hybridisation with the closely related sika deer.
Carted deer were kept by stag hunts with no wild red deer in the locality and were normally recaptured after the hunt and used again; although the hunts are called "stag hunts", the Norwich Staghounds only hunted hinds female red deer , and in , at least eight hinds some of which may have been pregnant were known to be at large near Kimberley and West Harling ;  they formed the basis of a new population based in Thetford Forest in Norfolk. Further substantial red deer herds originated from escapes or deliberate releases in the New Forest , the Peak District , Suffolk , Lancashire , Brecon Beacons , and North Yorkshire , as well as many other smaller populations scattered throughout England and Wales , and they are all generally increasing in numbers and range.
A census of deer populations in and again in coordinated by the British Deer Society records the red deer as having continued to expand their range in England and Wales since ,  with expansion most notable in the Midlands and East Anglia.
In New Zealand , red deer were introduced by acclimatisation societies along with other deer and game species. The first red deer to reach New Zealand were a pair sent by Lord Petre in from his herd at Thorndon Park , Essex, to the South Island, but the hind was shot before they had a chance to breed. Lord Petre sent another stag and two hinds in , and these were liberated near Nelson , from where they quickly spread.
The first deer to reach the North Island were a gift to Sir Frederick Weld from Windsor Great Park and were released near Wellington ; these were followed by further releases up to Between and March , 1,, deer were killed on official operations.
The introduced red deer have adapted well and are widely hunted on both islands; many of the introductions used deer originating from Scotland Invermark or one of the major deer parks in England, principally Warnham, Woburn Abbey or Windsor Great Park.
Some hybridisation happened with the closely related American elk Cervus canadensis nelsoni introduced in Fiordland in New Zealand red deer produce very large antlers and are regarded as amongst the best in the world by hunters.
Along with the other introduced deer species, they are, however, officially regarded as a noxious pest and are still heavily culled using professional hunters working with helicopters, or even poisoned.
Today, red deer in Australia range from Queensland south through New South Wales into Victoria and across to South Australia, with the numbers increasing.
This is having adverse effects on the integrity of wild herds, as now more and larger herds are being grown due to the superior genetics that have been attained by selective breeding. Red deer in Europe generally spend their winters at lower altitudes in more wooded terrain. During the summer, they migrate to higher elevations where food supplies are greater and better for the calving season. Until recently, biologists considered the red deer and elk or wapiti C.
This belief was based largely on the fully fertile hybrids that can be produced under captive conditions. Genetic evidence clearly shows the wapiti and common red deer form two separate species.
Another member of the red deer group which may represent a separate species is C. The International Union for Conservation of Nature originally listed nine subspecies of red deer Cervus elaphus: The species as a whole, however, is listed as least concern.
The common red deer is also known as simply red deer. Selected members of the red deer species group are listed in the table below. Of the ones listed, C. Mature red deer C. During the mating season, called the rut , mature stags compete for the attentions of the hinds and will then try to defend the hinds they attract. Rival stags challenge opponents by belling and walking in parallel. If neither stag backs down, a clash of antlers can occur, and stags sometimes sustain serious injuries.
Dominant stags follow groups of hinds during the rut, from August into early winter. The stags may have as many as 20 hinds to keep from other, less attractive males. Stags two to four years old rarely hold harems and spend most of the rut on the periphery of larger harems, as do stags over 11 years old.
Young and old stags that do acquire a harem hold it later in the breeding season than those stags in their prime. Stags that enter the rut in poor condition are less likely to make it through to the peak conception period. Male European red deer have a distinctive roar during the rut, which is an adaptation to forested environments, in contrast to male American elk stags which "bugle" during the rut in adaptation to open environments.
The male deer roars to keep his harem of females together. The females are initially attracted to those males that both roar most often and have the loudest roar call. Males also use the roar call when competing with other males for females during the rut, and along with other forms of posturing and antler fights, is a method used by the males to establish dominance.
Female red deer reach sexual maturity at 2 years of age. There may be several more matings before the stag will seek out another mate in his harem. Red deer are among mammals exhibiting homosexual behavior. After two weeks, calves are able to join the herd and are fully weaned after two months. However, as in many species of Old World deer, some adults do retain a few spots on the backs of their summer coats.
Red deer live over 20 years in captivity and in the wild they live 10 to 13 years, though some subspecies with less predation pressure average 15 years. Male red deer retain their antlers for more than half the year, and are less gregarious and less likely to group with other males when they have antlers. The antlers provide self-defence, as does a strong front-leg kicking action performed by both sexes when attacked. Once the antlers are shed, stags tend to form bachelor groups which allow them to cooperatively work together.
Herds tend to have one or more members watching for potential danger, while the remaining members eat and rest. After the rut, females form large herds of up to 50 individuals. The newborn calves are kept close to the hinds by a series of vocalizations between the two, and larger nurseries have an ongoing and constant chatter during the daytime hours.
When approached by predators, the largest and most robust females may make a stand, using their front legs to kick at their attackers. Guttural grunts and posturing is used with all but the most determined of predators with great effectiveness. Aside from humans and domestic dogs, the grey wolf is probably the most dangerous predator European red deer encounter.
Occasionally, the brown bear will prey on European red deer. The leopard in Asia Minor now extinct probably preyed on eastern European red deer. Both the Barbary lion and the Barbary leopard probably once preyed on Atlas stags in the Atlas Mountains, although the Barbary lion is now extinct in the wild, and the Barbary leopard is either very rare or extinct.
In the past they were also hunted by the now extinct Caspian tiger. Red deer are widely depicted in cave art found throughout European caves, with some of the artwork dating from as early as 40, years ago, during the Upper Paleolithic.
Siberian cave art from the Neolithic of 7, years ago has abundant depictions of red deer, including what can be described as spiritual artwork, indicating the importance of this mammal to the peoples of that region Note: In medieval hunting , the red deer was the most prestigious quarry, especially the mature stag, which in England was called a hart.
Red deer are held in captivity for a variety of reasons. The Queen still follows the custom of offering large pieces of venison to members of the Cabinet of the United Kingdom and others.
Some estates in the Scottish Highlands still sell deer-stalking accompanied by a gillie in the traditional way, on unfenced land, while others operate more like farms for venison.
Venison is widely considered to be both flavourful and nutritious. It is higher in protein and lower in fat than either beef or chicken.
In Russia , a medication produced from antler velvet is sold under the brand name Pantokrin Russian: Deer antlers are also used for decorative purposes and have been used for artwork, furniture and other novelty items. Deer antlers were and still are the source material for horn furniture.
Already in the 15th century trophies of case were used for clothes hook, storage racks and chandeliers, the so-called "lusterweibchen". In the 19th century the European nobility discovered among others the red deer antlers as perfect object for fashioning their manors and hunting castles.
This fashion trend splashes over to upper- and middle-class households in the mid of the 19th century. With the increasing popularity of the World Expositions mainly producers of horn furniture in Germany, Austria and the United States showed their ideas of horn furniture and a kind of series manufacturing began.
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