13 Types Of Deer And How To Tell The Difference

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Deer, known for their beauty and elegance, are popular mammals found in forests and open areas worldwide. Some even boldly venture into towns! Belonging to the Cervidae family within the Artiodactyla order, they have unique even-toed hooves.

With 55 species spread across the globe, except in Sub-Saharan Africa, Australia, and Antarctica, deer thrive in diverse habitats like forests, grasslands, and tundra. These herbivores and ruminants often appear in regions beyond their native homes as game animals.

Join us as we explore 13 different deer types, highlighting their unique traits and habitats.

Different Kinds of Deer Species

The deer family, also known as Cervidae, is split into two main groups. The first, called Cervinae or Old World deer, includes eight types of deer known for a specific bone structure in their legs. The second group, Capreolinae or New World deer, has a different bone structure and includes 10 deer types. These two groups show the amazing variety within the deer family!

Deer species live on various continents, each with unique features and habitats. Let’s take a closer look at them!

1. Red Deer

The red deer is the largest deer in the UK, known for its dark russet-brown fur and a paler rump. A mature stag can stand four feet at the shoulder and weigh up to 200kg. They have large, branching antlers that grow bigger with age.

Red deer are commonly found in Scotland, especially in the Highlands and islands, and also in the Lake District, Exmoor, the New Forest, and Thetford Forest.

They live in moorlands, mountainsides, and grasslands near woodlands. Their diet mainly includes grasses, heather, and other shrubs. Red deer have a lifespan of up to 20 years, though most typically live no longer than 16 years.

2. White-tailed Deer

different kinds of deer

White-tailed deer are the smallest in the North American deer family. In summer, they have reddish-brown coats, turning grayish-brown in winter. Their name comes from the white underside of their tails, shown when sensing danger. They have white patches around their eyes, nose, throat, and stomach.

Males, with antlers weigh between 150 and 300 pounds, while females weigh 90 to 200 pounds.

These deer are herbivores, preferring open woodlands, but are also found near urban and farming areas. Most live 2 to 3 years, with a maximum lifespan of 20 years in the wild, though few live past 10. White-tailed deer inhabit southern Canada and most of the U.S., except the Southwest, Alaska, and Hawaii.

3. European Fallow Deer

different deer species

The fallow deer, a medium-sized and elegant species, is known for its typically spotted coat and males with broad, palmate antlers. Their color varies, usually pale gingery-brown with white spots on the back, a distinct black and white tail, and a white rump patch outlined in black.

They are about 1.3-1.8m in length, stand 0.5-1.2m at the shoulder, and weigh between 31-63kg. Fallow deer have an average lifespan of 8-16 years.

Common in England, Wales, Ireland, and southern Scotland, they prefer deciduous or mixed woodlands with large clearings and often live in small herds. They are also a common sight in many deer parks. Their diet consists of grasses, herbs, and young broadleaf trees.

4. Sambar Deer

breeds of deer

The Sambar Deer, known as the largest Oriental deer, has many subspecies varying in size and appearance. Adult males can weigh up to 550kg and stand 102 to 160 cm tall at the shoulder. They are notable for their thick, long, coarse hair, forming a dense mane around the neck in male deer.

Males are distinguished by their antlers and are generally larger and darker than females and young. In captivity, Sambar Deer can live up to 28 years, but in the wild, their lifespan is typically no more than 12 years.

These deer are always found near water, as they are water-dependent. They inhabit a wide range of forest habitats, including dry deciduous forests, rainforests, and mixed forests. Their range spans from the Himalayan foothills across southern Asia to the islands of Taiwan, Sumatra, and Borneo.

5. Muntjac

deer kinds

Muntjac deer are small and stocky, similar in size to a small or medium dog, and are the smallest deer species in Britain. They stand about 45-52cm tall at the shoulder and have tiny hooves measuring just 2cm wide and 3-4cm long. Known for their agility and speed, they also have large, expressive eyes, suggesting a playful nature.

Their coat, copper-brown in color, turns to a dull grey in winter, blending in with the forest floor. While deer bucks can live up to 16 years and does up to 19, these are rare lifespans.

Originally from Southeast Asia, including regions in India, China, Taiwan, and Indonesia, they are now widespread across England and Wales. Muntjac deer have a varied diet consisting of fruits, nuts, seeds, and fungi, which they forage for on their daily explorations of the forest floor.

6. Sika Deer

names of deer species

Sika deer, small members of the elk family, have dark brown to black coats with distinctive white spots, which they retain into adulthood. These spots are more visible during the summer. Males boast a dark, shaggy mane along their neck and are recognizable by their white rump patch, which flares when they are alarmed.

Their antlers can grow up to 15 inches in length. Sika stags typically weigh around 90 pounds, while hinds (females) weigh about 70 pounds, standing roughly 2 ½ feet tall at the shoulder. These deer feed on marsh vegetation, grasses, and agricultural crops like corn and soybeans.

In the wild, Sika deer have a lifespan of 15 to 18 years, with some living up to 25 years in captivity. Originally from Japan, Taiwan, and East Asia, they have been introduced in various U.S. locations, including Texas, Virginia, and Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Sika deer prefer habitats like marshes and thick, forested wetlands.

7. Elk

kinds of deers

Elk, also known as wapiti, a term meaning “light-colored deer” in the Native American language, is much larger than most deer relatives. A bull elk’s antlers can extend 4 feet above its head, making it stand a towering 9 feet tall. Elk have an average lifespan of 8 to 12 years in the wild.

They typically measure 4 to 5 feet at the shoulder and weigh between 325 to 1,100 pounds. Elk are versatile in their diet, feeding on grass, shrubs, tree bark, and various other foods.

Historically widespread across North America, overhunting and habitat changes forced elk into more secluded areas. Today, they are primarily found in western North America, particularly in mountainous regions.

8. Reindeer

deer with big antlers

Reindeer, also known as caribou in North America, are unique as they can be either wild (caribou) or domesticated (reindeer). In Europe, they are always referred to as reindeer. Standing 28 to 53 inches at the shoulder, female deer weigh between 121 and 308 pounds, and males between 140 and 550 pounds, varying throughout the year.

Remarkably, both male and female reindeer can grow antlers, with males’ antlers reaching up to 1.4 meters in length and having as many as 44 points, or ‘tines.’ Their diet consists of mosses, herbs, ferns, grasses, and the shoots and leaves of shrubs and trees. In the wild, reindeer have a lifespan of up to 15 years, but domesticated ones can live up to 20 years.

They inhabit the tundra and boreal forests. Reindeer are found across Scandinavia, Russia, Iceland, Greenland, Alaska, and Canada, adapting well to these regions’ varying climates and landscapes.

9. Roe Deer

types of deer in texas

The Roe Deer, a slender, medium-sized species, is notable for its short antlers and lack of a tail. Its coat changes with the seasons, turning reddish in summer and darker grey in winter, with a pale buff patch around its rump.

These deer measure between 0.9 to 1.3 meters in length, stand 60 to 75 cm at the shoulder, and weigh 10 to 25 kg. On average, they live for about seven years.

Roe Deer are widespread in Scotland and England, less common in Wales, the Midlands, and southern England, and are absent from Northern Ireland.

10. Mule Deer

types of deer in north america

Mule Deer are easily recognized by their large ears, about three-fourths the length of their head. They feature a distinctive black forehead or mask against a light gray face. Their summer coat is tannish-brown, turning brownish-gray in winter.

Notably, they have a white rump patch and a small white tail with a black tip, except for the black-tailed deer subspecies found in the Northwest, which have black tails. Mule Deer stand 3 to 3.5 feet tall at the shoulder, are 4.5 to 7 feet long, and have a 5 to 8-inch long tail. Their weight ranges between 130 and 280 pounds, with females being smaller than males.

As browsers, they feed on herbaceous plants, leaves, and twigs of shrubs. Native to western North America, they are adapted to arid, rocky environments. In the wild, their lifespan is typically 9-11 years, but they can live over 20 years in captivity.

11. Brocket Deer

deer looking

Brocket deer, belonging to the genus Mazama in the deer family, is a small deer found from Mexico to South America. Known for being shy, they prefer wooded areas and often live alone or in pairs.

These deer have slender legs, long grey necks, big dark eyes, mobile pink ears, and a rich red-brown body that varies in shade depending on the species.

Compact with arched backs and short tails, they stand about 43–69 cm (17–27 inches) tall at the shoulder and weigh 24 to 48 kg. Male Brockets are characterized by their short, unbranched antlers.

12. Chital Deer

deer species

Chital, also known as spotted deer, are beautiful deer with a color range from golden to rufous, adorned with distinctive spots. They exhibit strong sexual dimorphism, meaning males are significantly larger than females and sport large, lyre-shaped antlers. Their underbelly, rump, throat, ears, and the inside of their tails are covered in white fur.

Males stand about 90–100 cm (35–39 inches) tall at the shoulder, while females are smaller, measuring 65–75 cm (26–30 inches). They have a head-and-body length of around 1.7 meters (5 feet 7 inches). Chital are adaptable feeders, consuming both grasses and shrubs, which makes them well-suited to their native habitats in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. They have also been introduced to Australia, Hawaii, and Croatia.

In captivity, Chital can live nearly 22 years, but their lifespan in the wild is typically shorter, ranging from five to ten years.

13. Moose

what are male deers called

Moose are the giants of the deer family, towering at six feet (1.8 meters) from hoof to shoulder and weighing more than 1,000 pounds (450 kilograms). Their fur, ranging from light to dark brown, is uniquely hollow, trapping air for insulation. A distinctive skin flap, known as a dewlap, hangs from their throat.

Moose inhabit the northern regions of the United States, including Maine to Washington, across Canada, and into Alaska.

Their preference for cold climates is due to their large size and insulating fur. They thrive in forested areas that have streams and ponds, which provide ideal conditions for these herbivores.


The world of deer is a testament to nature’s diversity and adaptability. From the majestic moose of the northern forests to the delicate chital of Asian grasslands, each species of deer brings its unique beauty and charm to our planet.

These graceful creatures, thriving in varied habitats across the globe, remind us of the importance of conservation and the wonder of the natural world.

As we learn about the different types of deer, we are inspired to cherish and protect these magnificent animals and the environments they call home.

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