17 Different Types of Deer – Complete List and Guide

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types of deer

Deer are an interesting animal. Cute as babies and majestic as adults, these animals are quite a spectacle to behold.

It’s interesting to note that there are many different types of deer that exist all over the world.

What is the most common type of deer?

The most common type of deer in North America is the white-tailed deer. They are also the most common in the whole world.

In Canada and the United States, there are approximately 15 million of this deer species.

Are there different species of deer?

There are 47 different species of deer. They can be found around the world, in every continent except Antarctica.

Each species is different, so it can adapt to its unique habitat.

Popular Types of Deer by Region

While all species of deer contain some similarities, they really differ by region. These are the most popular types of deer you will find around the world.

Europe

Roe deer

Roe deer

Roe deer are quite small and only measure 2 feet at the shoulder. They live in northern European areas and are adapted to the cold.

These deer have a grey-brown coat that fades in winter. Male roe deer have antlers although they usually only have two or three points on them.

Fallow

Fallow

Uniquely looking, fallow deer are a bit of an anomaly. Male fallow deer have antlers but for many years these antlers are just two spikes.

Therefore, from the tops of their heads, they can look like goats. However, once fallow deer are full-sized adults, these spikes develop into very large, very impressive antlers.

Fallow deer have faded white spots that persist into adulthood. They prefer areas where they can hide during the day from predators.

Arctic and Subarctic Deer

Reindeer

Reindeer

Yes, Santa’s most trusted animals are actually a species of deer. Their large, many-pronged antlers really set reindeer apart from other species.

They are medium-sized types of deer and have extra-thick fur. This fur protects them as reindeer live in areas with arctic tundra and forests.

You will often find very large herds of reindeer. They need to travel great distances to find enough food to eat.

Elk

Elk

It can be a bit confusing to label elk among animals, as they are a member of the deer family while also being a bit distinctive.

Elk were severely hunted in the early 19th century, so much that they nearly became extinct.

The remaining herds roamed the Rocky Mountains and once hunting became regulated, they were given a chance to re-populate and are now found in abundance.

Appearance-wise, elk are quite large, growing to be 5 feet at the shoulder. They have short, light-brown tails and a coppery-brown coat that fades to tan in winter.

Moose

Moose

Moose are the largest animal in the deer family. They can grow to be 6 feet at the shoulder.

In addition to their size, what really sets moose apart from other deer is their antlers. Instead of being merely pointy in shape, their antlers are quite wide, with an almost shovel-like appearance.

Asia

Tufted deer

Tufted deer

Quite small in size, tufted deer have a unique tuft of black hair that grows atop their forehead. They are small and only grow about 2 feet at the shoulder.

Tufted deer have a dark brown coat with shorter white hairs. The fur is quite coarse.

Instead of growing antlers, tufted deer have short tusks. These are upper canine teeth that grow downwards.

Tufted deer live in China, Tibet, and Myanmar.  

Indian Muntjac

Indian Muntjac

While Indian Muntjac deer are a species of deer, they are quite different than the animals we are familiar with in North America. They are small in size and instead of antlers they have spiky tusks.

While most species of deer are herbivores, Indian Muntjac deer are actually omnivores. In addition to grasses and plants, they will eat eggs and sometimes even carrion.

As their name suggests, you can find Indian Muntjac deer in India and other areas of South Asia.

Water deer

Water deer

Water deer are some of the most unique of their species due to their tusks. In fact, the tusks, which are upper canine teeth that grow downwards, have actually earned them the nickname of vampire deer.

Also interesting is that water deer don’t grow antlers. When male deer decide to battle other male members, they will click their tusks and if need be, even use their tusks for combat.

Water deer mostly live in Korea and parts of China. However, after some water deer were introduced to England, a few escaped and there is now a feral herd in the area.

Sambar

Sambar deer

Sambar deer are quite large and can weigh up to 500 pounds. They are mostly found in tropical and subtropical forests, and are quite densely populated in India.

These deer have quite a few predators to look out for, including tigers and leopards. They are good swimmers and will often retreat to the water to get away from bigger animals.

Barasingha

barasingha deer

Also known as swamp deer, Barasingha deer have long antlers with three tines instead of the characteristic two.

While Barasingha deer live in India and Nepal, they have become extinct in Bangladesh and Pakistan. Their hair is a yellow-brown color and is wooly in texture.

Barasingha received the nickname of swamp deer because they prefer marshy areas and wetlands to graze in.

South America

Taruca

taruca deer

Taruca deer are medium-sized and measure 2 ½ feet at the shoulder. They have light-brown coats and white patches of fur around their neck, head, and tail.

These deer are actually only found in the Andes Mountains, although they traverse the mountain range and can be found in Peru, Bolivia, and Chile. They prefer elevated areas that still have grassland for them to graze on.

Because of their extreme habitat, herds are thinner in population and area. Each Taruca deer needs more space to be able to find enough to eat.  

Pudú

Pudú deer

The smallest species of deer in the entire world are the Pudu deer. They grow to only be 12 to 17 inches at the shoulder.

When Pudu deer are born, they are incredibly fuzzy. This, combined with their petite size of only 6 inches at birth, make them very adorable.

Male Pudu deer have antlers but they are just spikes. They mainly live in Chile, although their small size makes them hard to see in the wild.

Marsh deer

Marsh deer

The name of marsh deer can be a bit confusing. Barasingha deer, which live in India, are sometimes called swamp deer, and the marsh deer, which lives in South America, can also go by the same name. However, they are two very different species of deer.

Marsh deer have very large ears with a white coloring on the inside. Their coat is a bright brown color that fades to black along the legs.

They are most commonly found in the marshy areas of Brazil, Argentina, and Bolivia. While they used to roam more of the continent, they are now confined to much smaller areas.

North America

White-tailed deer

White-tailed deer

While white-tailed deer don’t actually have white tails, they do have a large white marking right under their tails. They can grow to be 300 pounds in size and 4 feet at the shoulder.

Throughout the year, white-tailed deer change the color of their coats, having a redder-brown color in summer and a more subdued gray-brown coat in winter.

White-tailed deer are especially expressive and will drop their ears to discourage other deer from getting too close, or even giving a hard, intimidating stare.

Mule deer

Mule deer

Mule deer are some of the most common types of deer in the United States. They have large flappy ears, which is how they got their name.

Other characteristics of mule deer include forked antlers and tails that have a black ending to them. Their hind area has a white patch and they have an overall gray-brown coat.

These deer are average in size, measuring 3 feet at their shoulder. They are usually about 280 pounds.

You can see mule deer in grassy, desert landscapes.

Cervus

Sika deer

Sika deer

While Sika deer are actually native to East Asia and Japan, they have been introduced to the United States where they now thrive.

Sike deer are unique in that they have bright white spots that remain from childhood into adulthood.

While these deer are quite large in Asia, in the United States they are often half the size, measuring only 100 pounds.

Red deer

Red deer

Red deer are the largest land mammals in all of Great Britain. They can grow up to 4 ½ feet at their shoulders and weigh up to 250 pounds.

Prominent characteristics of red deer include their wide-spaced eyes, which are brown in color. They have a large head and male deer, or stags, will have large, branched antlers.

Red deer are called so because of their reddish-brown fur. They live in forest habitats.

Conclusion

There are many species within the deer family and all have their unique characteristics. While these animals can look cute from a distance, always be ware and give them enough space if you encounter them in the wild.

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