Red deer

Red deer

Cervus elaphus

Common name:

Red deer

Scientific name:

Cervus elaphus

Alternative common names:


The red deer is the fourth largest deer species behind moose, elk and samba deer. The males have large, usually six-pointed antlers that are shed annually. The antlers are usually shed between mid February and mid April, and new growth starts soon after the old scars have healed.

Additional Information

Where does this species come from?


What is its invasive status in South Africa?

NEMBA Category 2.

Where in South Africa is it a problem?

Eastern Cape and Free State.

How does it spread?

They escape from their range and farms.

Why is it a problem?

They cause changes in vegetation structure and composition that influence plant richness and biodiversity and may result in damage to forest regeneration and productivity. They also damage agricultural crops.

What does it look like?

Description: Adult red deer are medium-sized with large, curved antlers, and a plain brown body that is lighter below. Mature males have antlers with 10 or more tines, the uppermost pointing upwards in a cluster. The muzzle is blackish and hairless, and the hooves are grey to black. Both sexes are similar in colour. Adults typically have no spots, while newborn fawns are brown or reddish-brown with a dark dorsal stripe and a creamy to light brown rump patch. White spots are scattered on the back and flanks. Females weigh 100-150kg and males weigh 200-300kg.

Habitat: Red deer occupy a range of habitats including grassland, woodland and upland moors.

Breeding: The average gestation period of red deer is about 249-262 days (8½ months). The main calving period extends from about the middle of May to the middle of June; the number of young is almost invariably one.

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