Deer: The Animal Answer Guide

Deer: The Animal Answer Guide

by George A. Feldhamer, William J. McShea


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Think of deer and the image that pops into most American's minds is that of a white-tailed deer, the most common large mammal in North America. Most Europeans are more familiar with red deer. It may surprise many people to know that there are actually about 50 species of deer found throughout the world. Here, readers will find nontechnical, expert information about the wide range of diverse deer species.

Did you know that elk and caribou are deer? Or that the earliest fossils of deer are 15 to 20 million years old? Have you ever wondered whether deer swim, play, or see color? How do deer avoid predators and survive the winter? Do deer make good pets or carry contagious diseases? George A. Feldhamer and William J. McShea answer these and other intriguing questions about members of the deer family Cervidae.

From the diminutive pudu of South America that weighs 17 pounds to male moose that weigh close to 2,000 pounds, Feldhamer and McShea explore the biology, evolution, ecology, feeding habits, reproduction, and behavior of deer. They chronicle the relationships between humans and deer—both positive and negative—and discuss the challenges of deer conservation and management.

With vivid color photographs and an accessible and engaging question-and-answer format, this easy-to-read book is the go-to resource on deer. Nature lovers, hunters, and anyone curious about deer will find this fact-filled book both fascinating and full of surprises.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781421403885
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date: 02/15/2012
Series: The Animal Answer Guides: Q&A for the Curious Naturalist
Pages: 200
Product dimensions: 6.90(w) x 9.90(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

George A. Feldhamer is a professor of zoology at Southern Illinois University. He is coeditor of Mammalogy: Adaptation, Diversity, Ecology and Wild Mammals of North America: Biology, Management, and Conservation; and coauthor of Mammals of the National Parks, all published by Johns Hopkins. William J. McShea is a research scientist at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park and senior editor of The Science of Overabundance: Deer Ecology and Population Management and Oak Forest Ecosystems: Ecology and Management for Wildlife, the latter also published by Johns Hopkins.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi

Introduction xiii

1 Introducing Deer 1

What are deer? 1

What is the difference between bucks, stags, and bulls? 3

How many kinds of deer are there? 3

How are musk deer different from "true" deer? 4

What are the most common species of deer? 6

What species of deer are most rare? 8

Why are deer important? 8

Where do deer live? 9

What is the current classification of deer? 11

What characterizes the major groups of deer? 12

When did deer evolve? 13

What is the oldest fossil deer? 14

2 Form and Function 15

What are the largest and smallest living deer? 15

What is the metabolism of deer? 16

What is the structure and function of deer teeth? 17

Can deer see color? 19

Can deer swim? 20

How fast can deer run? 21

How high can deer jump? 21

What are antlers? 22

What determines antler size in an individual? 22

Why do deer have antlers? 23

Do all male deer have antlers? 25

Do female deer ever have antlers? 25

Why do female caribou usually have antlers? 26

How do antlers differ from horns? 26

What is the yearly cycle of antlers? 26

When and how do antlers grow? 27

How fast can antlers grow? 28

Do antlers of tropical deer differ from those of temperate species? 28

How large and heavy can antlers get? 30

How are antlers shed? 30

Why shed antlers and regrow them every year? 30

Why are relatively few shed antlers found on the ground? 31

Are antlers always symmetrical? 32

How do antler anomalies occur? 32

How did antlers evolve? 33

3 Deer Coat Colors 36

What are the functions of the coat in deer? 36

What causes the different coat colors of deer? 38

How are hair colors determined genetically? 39

What about patterns of coat color? 39

Are there age-related differences in coat color? 40

Do coat colors change in different seasons? 41

Is there geographic variation in coat color within a given species? 42

4 Deer Behavior 44

Are deer social? 44

Do deer fight? 47

How smart are deer? 48

Do deer play? 50

Do deer talk? 50

How do deer avoid predators? 52

5 Deer Ecology 55

Do deer sleep in the same place each night? 55

Do deer migrate? 56

Which geographic regions have the most species of deer? 57

How do deer survive in the desert or during droughts? 58

How do deer survive the winter? 60

Do deer have enemies? 61

Do deer get sick? 62

Are deer good for the environment? 66

6 Reproduction and Development 67

How do deer reproduce? 67

When do deer mate and give birth? 70

Do deer breed only one time per year? 71

How many fawns do deer have? 71

Are all deer fawns full siblings? 72

Can the sex of a deer be determined visually? 72

Do deer care for their young? 72

How fast do deer grow? 74

How can you tell the age of a deer? 75

How long do deer live? 77

7 Foods and Feeding 78

What do deer eat? 78

How do deer find food? 83

Are any deer scavengers? 84

How do deer digest their food? 85

Do deer store food? 86

8 Deer and Humans 89

Do deer make good pets? 89

Should people feed deer? 89

Do deer feel pain? 91

What should I do if I find an injured deer? 91

What should I do if I find a fawn? 92

What is the best way to observe deer? 92

How economically important are deer today? 94

What are deer game farms and game ranches? 95

How and where did deer farms begin? 96

What parts of deer are used in traditional Asian medicine? 97

9 Deer Problems (from a human viewpoint) 98

Can deer be pests? 98

How do I reduce deer damage? 99

How many deer are hit by vehicles? 101

Where are deer most often hit? 102

What are ways to reduce deer-vehicle collisions? 103

Do deer have diseases that are contagious? 106

Can deer negatively affect forest regeneration and structure? 107

How can exotic species of deer cause problems? 107

Where have deer been introduced? 109

Why introduce deer to different places? 111

10 Human Problems (from a deer's viewpoint) 112

Do people hunt and eat deer? 112

Are any deer species endangered? 114

What is so unusual about the endangered Père David's deer? 118

What about other conservation efforts? 120

Why are some species endangered while others reach pest proportions? 120

How will deer be affected by global warming? 121

11 Deer in Art and Literature 123

What roles do deer play in art, religion, mythology, and popular culture? 123

How have deer been incorporated into literature and poetry? 124

12 "Deerology" 134

Who studies deer? 134

Which species are best known? 137

Which species are least known? 138

How do scientists tell deer apart? 139

Appendix A Deer of the World 143

Appendix B Deer Conservation Organizations 145

Bibliography 149

Index 157

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