A deer is never just a deer! These beautiful, graceful animals come in all different shapes and sizes, and you might be shocked to know that there are actually over 100 different types of deer on the planet.
Of course, some are native to certain areas, and others run wild no matter what country we’re talking about. The various different species of deer are actually fascinating to learn about. Deer come in all sizes from large to tiny, because of the this there are huge variations between the way deer live, mate, even different deer feeding times depending on the species.
To help you learn more about the various different types of deer around, let’s take a closer look at some of the most common deer species you will come across. Of course, deer love to roam free in areas which are wooded and cool, so if you stumble upon such conditions, you’re likely to find a certain type of deer wandering around.
The most common types you’re likely to stumble upon include:
- White-tailed deer
- Red deer
- Reindeer (also known as Caribou)
- Water deer
- Common muntjac
- Axis deer (also known as chital deer)
- Sika deer
- Eld’s deer
- Sambar deer
- Visayan spotted deer
- Fallow deer
- Key deer
- Mule deer
- Pampas deer
- Roe deer
You might have heard of most of these deer species, but some may be a little of a mystery to you also. Of course, this is because many of these species are common across the word, but some are indigenous, and therefore not all that common. Let’s chat about each one in turn, as well as some of their most common characteristics in terms of identifying them.
You can easily spot a white-tailed deer, pretty much as the name would suggest! Simply look at the tail and you will notice a white splash. The red deer is also easy to identify, because of its glossy red coat, which can be either intense red, or a little more subdued. These two species of deer can be spotted almost anywhere and are amongst the most common you will venture across. You may also have seen a key deer, which is a type of white-tailed deer also.
Of course, the next one on our list lives in cooler conditions, and whether you believe in Santa and the legend of Rudolph or not, the reindeer, or caribou as it is also known, is a beautiful species to see in the wild. With a thicker coat and a more ‘beardy’ appearance to its face, a reindeer is truly majestic.
Similar in appearance, you will find a moose also. You won’t miss a moose because it is likely to be big and heavy! The moose reaches the heaviest of all moose species, and they are very prevalent in large areas of open woodland.
If you have ever seen a deer which had tusks, instead of the traditional type of antler you would expect, then this is likely to have been a water deer. These deer are often mistaken as being another type of animal altogether, but they do belong to the deer family, and are probably one of the most diverse species of deer you will spot on your outdoor travels.
Next up, we have the common muntjac, which is also widely known as the Indian muntjac. In comparison, you have the axis deer, which can also be known as the chital deer. These are quite commonly seen depicted in animated movies, and they can be identified by the white spots on their coat, which never disappear with age, a little like the very similar fallow deer.
Anyone who has been out and about in the wilderness will probably have come across an elk. This is a very large group of deer which is commonly seen across the world.
This type of deer can be identified because of how they stand – tall and proud! You will no doubt have seen this type of deer in movies, especially children’s movies, because of their proud demeanour! A sambar deer is also very like an elk, and is often mistaken for the former.
Continuing on with larger species of deer, the mule deer is also a species which can grow to larger proportions, and can also be identified by having large ears.
Have you ever seen a sika deer? If you’re not sure, these can be characterised by their small head and legs, yet longer body. This type of deer isn’t all that common, and they don’t grow to large sizes, unlike the elk species we have just talked about. Another smaller species of deer is the visayan spotted deer also.
Deer can be like chameleons too, as the pampas deer proves! The light colour of the coat enables them to disappear into the background, and hide themselves away from possible threats and hunters.
We’ve talked about large deer, so now lets talk about the smallest of the lot. The pudu and the roe deer are two of the smallest around. These two species are not the most common, but when spotted the certainly attract admiring glances, simply because they are so divine to look at!
This really rounds up the most likely to spot species of deer you will come across on your travels and your wilderness adventures.
Whilst there are certainly countless more out there, these are much more rare, and when you do spot one, be sure to take serious note of the characteristics, perhaps snapping a photo if you’re quick enough – this will enable you to do some research of your own into which type of deer you’re spotting, and learn more about it as a result.
There are of course many different types of deer which are no longer with us, and sadly extinct. As woodland and outdoor conditions change year upon year, with deforestation and perhaps global warming, the living environment of these beautiful creatures changes dramatically.
If we want to continue to enjoy these majestic animals for as long as possible, we need to be much more mindful of their living conditions too.