Pere David Deer

Primarily found in

China.  Known in China as "Milu".  Native to the subtropics of China.

Introduction to the Pere David's Deer

Their Chinese and Japanese names are translated as "four unlikes," because the animal has been described as having "the hoofs of a cow but not a cow, the neck of a camel but not a camel, antlers of a deer but not a deer, the tail of a donkey but not a donkey."

The Père David's deer has a long tassel-like tail, broad hooves, elongated snout and branched antlers (males only).  Male antlers typically grow upward with 2 to 3 main branches growing up and back over the neck.  Hindshafts often exhibit "jags", or noticeable points off the tines.  A very unique feature of Pere David's antlers is that they may grow two sets in a single year.  The summer antlers are the larger set, and are dropped in November, after the June-August rut.  The second set, if they appear, are fully grown by January, and are dropped a few weeks later.  Adults have summer coats that are reddish brown with a dark dorsal stripe that grows into a woollier and duller gray winter coat that is shed again in summer months. The fawns are woolly and cinnamon colored with spots on their upper sides.  The skin around the eyes and the lips are light grey and the neck has a throat mane in males.  The legs are long, and the hooves are relatively long and slender - and adaptation to walking on soft, marshy ground.  Adults typically weigh 330-440 lbs, with some males reaching 500 lbs.  They stand nearly 4 feet at the shoulder.

Pere David's Deer behavior

Prefer marshland habitat and wetlands along rivers.   Good swimmers that will spend hours wading in water up to their shoulders.  Create wallows in shallow water and mud; prefer area with shade covering.  Males can sometimes be observed lifting cool mud onto their backs with their large antlers (see video above).  Males gather harems and fight other competing males during the rut.  This is done by not only using their antlers, but males will stand and "box" as well.  Stags also endure significant weight loss during this period as a result of increased activity and fasting.  Rutting stags are very noisy, making loud, rhythmic bellows.  Legs sometimes produce a snapping sound as they walk.

Pere David's Deer food and eating habits

Graze on a mixture of grasses and water plants.  Although predominantly grazing animals, they supplements their diet with aquatic plants such as rushes during the summer.  Will occasionally feed on leaves, but relish acorns.

Pere David's Deer average life span

Typically live to 18 years, but are known to live up to 23 years.