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Sika Deer

Classification
  • Order: Artiodactyla
  • Family: Cervidae
  • Genus: Cervus
  • Species: cervus nippon
Fun Fact

Sika deer are good swimmers and will enter the water to escape predators or to cool off when it is extremely hot.

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About Sika Deer

The sika deer range in size with the smallest being from Japan and Formosa measuring 30-35 inches at the shoulder and weighing 100-176 pounds, and the largest being the Dybowski sikas with bucks measuring 35-43 inches at the shoulders and weighing 150-240 pounds.

There is a light colored band in a shallow "U" running from between the eyes up toward the ears. The sika also has a white, heart-shaped patch on the rump. The color of the coat changes during the different seasons and is different between males and females. Only males of the species grow antlers.

Males are solitary for most of the year but sometimes band together, while females and their young form groups of 2-3 only during the calving season. During the summer adult males establish territories of about 4-28 acres. Males mark their territories by digging holes up to 5 feet wide and 1 foot deep with their antlers and forefeet and urinate in them frequently. They also thrash the ground cover with their antlers. When territorial disputes occur between males, antlers and hooves are used as the primary weapons. These deer are very vocal. Sika deer use their antlers and sharp hooves also as weapons in defense against predators. Native predators include tigers, wolves and humans.

Sika Deer in the Wild

Habitat

Primarily a forest dwelling deer that prefers a dense understory. However, they are a highly adaptable species and do quite well in freshwater marshes, grasslands and agricultural areas.

Location

The native range is the southern Ussuri district of eastern Siberia including China, Formosa, Japan, Korea, Manchuria, Taiwan, and parts of Vietnam. Now they have been introduced to many areas including Australia, Austria, Denmark, England, France, Ireland, New Zealand, Poland, Scotland, Maryland, Morocco, Oklahoma, Texas, Wisconsin and Virginia.

Diet

The diet of sika deer can include marsh grasses, fallen leaves, trees, brushy vegetation, herbs, fungi, bamboo, ground ferns, poison ivy, soybeans and corn. They are highly adaptable and can be either grazers or browsers in response to the situation.

Population Status

Sika deer are valued in China for their antlers, which are used in traditional medicine. They are also an important food and game animal. Six subspecies of sika deer are classified as "endangered" due to unregulated hunting for food and commerce, and because of deforestation for agricultural purposes. In introduced areas, predation by wolves, feral dogs, foxes and lynx has taken a toll on populations.

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