British Wildlife

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Topics: Deer, Antler
Outline of species along with related anatomy, handling considerations and rehabilitation, release requirements
Skeletal system
Although the deer’s skeletal system is very similar to a dog or cat’s in terms of its basic structure, although there are some adaptations that they require in order to survive the wild. Deer have long necks which enable them to crane it so they can feed off low lying grass and other vegetation. Stefoff, R. (2007)

Deer are prey animals and so they require adaptations that enable them to run fast and this is why they are ‘ugulates’, (hoofed mammals). Ungulates walk on their ‘ungulis’ which is a tough outer plate of a hoof or toenail. When ungulates walk, their feet or digits do not come into contact with the ground but their hooves. Stefoff, R. (2007). This clever evolutionary asset is essential for speed. This is down to the biomechanics of how bodies move- the smaller the area that touches the ground with each stride, the greater the stride is which results in faster movement. Stefoff, R. (2007)

Hooves are an extremely strong version of human fingernails strong enough not to break when under immense pressure i.e. when the deer is running. Stefoff, R. (2007).The strength of the hooves comes from the keratin which exists in thick sheets and keratin fibres which run in all directions Stefoff, R. (2007)

Deer have a total of four toes on each foot. The middle two toes touch the ground and the outer two are elevated at the back, just above the hoof and are called dewclaws Stefoff, R. (2007). Metapodials in deer are elongated and form the lower part of the deer’s legs. In a deer, the femur and the humerus are short and thick in order to be able to anchor the large mass of muscle needed to propel them forward when running at high speed. Stefoff, R. (2007)

Scent glands
Seven glands are located on the body of a deer, scattered from head to toe to assist with communication amongst the herd and is how deer differentiate between one



References: Stefoff, R. (2007). Meet the Cervids. In: Stefoff, R Deer. New York: Mashall Cavendish Benchmark. 8-29.

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