Name: the sika deer (Cervus nippon) – also known as the spotted or Japanese deer – is a species of deer native to much of East Asia and introduced to many other parts of the world. They are closely related to red deer and can crossbreed to create hybrids. This can lead to problems for local deer species in areas where they have been introduced such as the Scottish Highlands.
Appearance: sika deer are one of the few deer species that do not lose their spots as they grow older. Their fur can range from white to brown and even black. During the winter their fur grows thicker and darker, and the males grow manes and antlers.
Size: sikas are medium-sized deer standing up to 1.1 metres tall and measuring up to 1.8 metres in length.
Diet: they are herbivores and eat leaves, grasses, ferns, and bamboo.
Did you know: Japan has by far the largest population of sika deer with an estimated 100,000 individuals. Numbers are growing due to the extinction of their natural predator – the Japanese wolf. In Nara Prefecture, there is a famous temple where sika deer are fed. Here they are known as ‘bowing deer’, as they bow their heads before being fed special deer cookies. In the wild, however, a deer bow signals that they are about to charge! Sika deer are found throughout the city of Nara and its many parks and temples as they are considered to be the messengers of the Shinto gods.
Location: they are found in the temperate and subtropical forests of eastern Asia, preferring areas with dense understory and limited snow. Populations of sika deer have been introduced to Western and Central Europe, Eastern United States, and New Zealand.
Where to see Sika deer
According to reports submitted to WildSide, you can see sika deer in the following places:
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Photo credit: Pixel-mixer under a Creative Commons licence from Pixabay