Red Stags, also known as Cervus elaphus, are one of the largest species of deer in the world. They are native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa, and have been introduced to other parts of the world, including Argentina, New Zealand and Australia, where they are now considered a pest species. One of the most interesting aspects of the Red Stag is their antlers. These majestic animals are known for their impressive antlers, which can grow to be quite large. But do Red Stag shed antlers? In this article, we will explore this question in detail.
What are Antlers?
Before we dive into the question of whether Red Stags shed their antlers, let’s first take a closer look at what antlers are. Antlers are bony structures that grow from the heads of male deer, elk, and moose. They are not to be confused with horns, which are found on animals such as cows and goats. Antlers are made of bone and are shed and regrown every year, while horns are made of keratin and are not shed.
Antlers grow from the base, called the pedicle, and are covered in a layer of skin called velvet. The velvet contains blood vessels and nerves that supply the growing antlers with nutrients and oxygen. As the antlers grow, the velvet dries up and falls off, revealing the hard, bony antlers beneath. Once the antlers are fully grown, they are used for a variety of purposes, including attracting mates, establishing dominance, and defending against predators.
Do Red Stag Shed Antlers?
Now that we have a better understanding of what antlers are, let’s get back to the question at hand: do Red Stag shed antlers? The answer is yes, they do. Red Stags, like all deer species, shed their antlers every year and grow a new set. The process of shedding and regrowing antlers is known as antler cycle.
The antler cycle begins in the spring, when the old antlers are shed. This process is controlled by hormones, specifically testosterone, which begins to decrease in the fall. As testosterone levels drop, the bone tissue in the antlers begins to weaken, and the antlers eventually fall off. This process usually takes a few days, and the antlers are typically shed between February and April.
Once the old antlers have been shed, the process of regrowing new antlers begins. This process can take anywhere from three to five months and requires a lot of energy and nutrients. During this time, the Red Stag’s body is working hard to grow the new antlers, which can grow up to an inch a day.
As the new antlers grow, they are covered in velvet, which provides them with nutrients and oxygen. Once the antlers are fully grown, the velvet dries up and falls off, revealing the hard, bony antlers beneath. The new antlers are then used for a variety of purposes, including attracting mates, establishing dominance, and defending against predators.
Why Do Red Stag Shed Antlers?
Now that we know that Red Stags shed their antlers, let’s take a closer look at why they do it. Shedding antlers is a natural process that allows Red Stags to grow new, larger antlers each year. This is important for a number of reasons.
First, larger antlers are a sign of dominance and can help Red Stags attract mates. During the breeding season, known as the rut, male Red Stags compete for the attention of females. The male with the largest antlers is often the most successful at attracting females and passing on his genes.
Second, shedding antlers allows Red Stags to conserve energy. Antlers are heavy and require a lot of energy to grow and maintain. By shedding their antlers each year, Red Stags are able to conserve energy and focus on other important tasks, such as foraging for food and avoiding predators.
Finally, shedding antlers is important for the health of Red Stags. Antlers can become damaged or infected, and shedding them allows the Red Stag to grow a new, healthy set of antlers each year.
In conclusion, Red Stags do shed their antlers every year as part of the natural antler cycle. Shedding antlers allows Red Stags to grow new, larger antlers each year, which is important for attracting mates, conserving energy, and maintaining their health. While shedding antlers may seem like a strange and unusual process, it is a natural and important part of the life cycle of Red Stags and other deer species.