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The European Red Deer is one of the largest deer species. The Red Deer inhabits most of Eruope and parts of western and central Asia. In many parts of the world, the meat (venison) from Red Deer is used as a food source. Although at one time these deer were rare in some areas, they were never close to extinction. Reintroduction and conservation efforts, especially in the United Kingdom, have resulted in an increase of Red Deer populations. They have also been introduced to other areas including Australia, New Zealand and Argentina.
Red Deer are ruminants, characterized by an even number of toes, and a four-chambered stomach like camels, goats, and cattle. Generally, the male (or stag) weighs 350-530 pounds and the female (or hind) weighs 260-370 pounds. Red Deer tend to be reddish brown in their summer coats. Male deer tend to have stronger and thicker neck muscles than female deer, giving the appearance of having neck manes. All fawns are born spotted, as is common with many deer species, and lose their spots by the end of summer.
Only the stags have antlers which start growing in the spring and are shed each year usually at the end of winter. Antlers are made of bone that can grow at a rate of 1" per day. A soft covering known as velvet helps protect newly forming antlers in the spring. Red Deer antlers are highly sought after worldwide for decorative purposes and have been used for artwork, furniture, and other novelty items.