Thursday, 17 October 2013

Deer Rut

The red deer rut is beginning to take place, and Albus has been very vocal over the last few mornings. It is a little later than usual, and still not in the full swing of things... yet have I seen them clash antlers, but it is certainly getting that way.

I will try and get some photographs of Albus and Olivander when things really start to get going, but for now I thought you might like to see this little sequence below that I used this year for a couple of our BWC talks.

These are from a couple of years ago of our old stag "Eric", and one of my favourites "Alfie". Simply put the rut is when the stags compete with each other, in a show of strength and stamina.

They will size each other up, often parallel walk with each other and if it comes to it... roar! If neither backs off, then eventually they will physically clash with their antlers. Trying to push and drive each other away.

It is very rare that a deer would die as a result, but injuries can happen. You can se how close to the eye the tines above are!

Eventually the victor bellows out his dominance, and then the next phase begins.

Throughout the rutting period the stags will display a lip curl behaviour, sometimes called the "flehmen" behaviour. This is when the males are sniffing the scent, to see if the females are in season.

If they are, it is time to make yourself smell good!.. And so the stag will urinate on himself and the ground, thrashing his antlers in the urine soaked ground to cover himself in his scent whilst decorating his antlers with grass and twigs.

Time to go off and see if the new smell works...

... and knackered after all the hard work! Not surprising though, as the stags rarely eat or sleep for the weeks of the rut, and usually it will only be one stag which mates with all the hinds in a small group.

All the effort is worth it though, as eight and a half months later, and the hinds give birth to a single calf each!

We are entering our quiet season in terms of animal news, and having posted a lot about our conservation work last winter I am reluctant to recap unless it is fresh news. But fear not... there will still be lots of updates with out wildcat kittens, of course our new otter cub which will soon be venturing out and a few fun little posts which I hope some of you will find interesting and or amusing.

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