We use cookies to offer the best possible user experience on our website. We also use third-party cookies, to deliver personalised advertisement messages. By using our website you agree, that cookies can be saved on your device. Further information on the cookies used and on how to disable them can be found here.

The red deer

Cervus elaphus

The name of red deer depends on the reddish brown coloration of the summer coat that becomes brownish grey in winter.
There are big differences between sexes: females are smaller and less robust than males, and besides, have a lengthened head and a thin neck. Unlike males they don’t have antlers. Antlers are made of two branched bony structures that are lost every year between February and April. Their rapid regrowth occurs with the formation of new bony tissue, covered by velvet (a greatly vascularized layer of dense and short heir), that has been removed between July and August by rubbing the antlers on branches or small trunks. The velvet removal signs the end of antlers’ regrowth, whose shape and development depend on age, genetic characteristics and living conditions of the animal.
The natural habitat of red deer consists of big woodlands characterized by frequent open lands. Red deer is herbivorous, so it eats both grass and foliage.
With the start of rutting season, single males join female groups, attracting them with their typical roar (this is the reason why rutting season is also called roaring season).
Births usually occur between the end of May and June and only one calf is born. Calves’ coat is dark brown with typical white spots that disappear after three months, useful either to be recognised by the mother (calves in this period are totally without smell) and to fool predators. The mother leaves the calf hidden in long grass or dense undergrowth for all the first period of life and joins it 4-5 times a day to suckle and clean it. The total absence of movement and smell, together with the spotted coat, increases the camouflage of the calf in the shady lighting typical of its hiding place. It’s really important to avoid to go close to calves, since our smell scares the mother that then doesn’t come back to feed them, thus putting their lives in danger: touching a calf will cause for sure its death!
Visit the Animal Wildlife Centre of Peio
The red deer

The rutting season

During the rutting season adult males display strong calls similar to hoarse moos, that can be heard especially at night, sunrise and dusk; in this way real vocal fights start, based on the intensity and the frequency of these roars, with which the animals show each other their mating potentiality. When fights are not resolved by threat or dominant displays, they seldom become physical too.
The winner male conquests the group of females and mate with them.  When the mating period ends, dominant male have spent all their energy to the mate activities, neglecting to feed and rest themselves, so they are really weak and they have lost the 20-30% of their weight.
It’s really peculiar to visit the Park during the peak of the rutting period between the end of September and the beginning of October: it is an unforgettable experience to hear the impressive roar of a lot of red deers in the otherwise silence valleys!
 Back to list