Vapiti deer - representative of a noble family
There are about 15 deer subspecies, and representatives of a noble family live almost all over the world: in Europe, Morocco, China, in the east and south of Asia, Australia and other regions. Wapiti deer is the common name for subspecies of these animals in North America.
Features and habitat
Natives of Canada and America denote animal wapiti the English word "elk" in Europe means moose. Some confusion in the names is caused by the fact that large sizes distinguish both red deer and elk. There are errors in text translations.
What are the features wapiti? In North America, out of six subspecies, two are considered extinct, the rest are found in various states of the USA and the northern prairies and forest territories of Canada.
All are distinguished by large branched horns, forming a magnificent crown. Small species differences: large deer live in Canadian Manitoba, and small ones in southern southern California. Despite the "heaviness of the crown," the animals are graceful and proud. The concept of red deer characterizes their general appearance.
The name of the species in China is translated as "abundance", so the significance of wapiti for humans has long been fixed. Deer were hunted because of meat, skins, horns, so their number was significantly reduced, many subspecies disappeared due to the loss of habitat. Although in the present hunting for them is prohibited and many of their areas have become reserved and park, the animal is listed in the Red Book because of the threat of extinction.
Wapiti deer up to 1.5 meters high, the same size at the length of the body. Dimensions increase due to horns in a range of up to 2 m and with many processes and characteristic bends, the mass of which reaches 16 kg. Horn dropping occurs annually in winter, then they grow back.
The total weight of a large male is 300-400 kg. The female weighs less and has no horns. The color of the coat is a gray-yellow hue, turning into brownish-brown on the neck mane, stomach and legs.
Young growth is spotty, but with the development of the animal, the coat acquires even tones. The noble deer is distinguished by a “mirror”, a large whitish-yellow spot at the base of the tail. This helps animals to find each other in the forest thickets at a remote distance.
Favorite places of wapiti deer are mountain forests, sparse and alternating with open valleys rich in forbs. Forest-steppe with shrubbery and spacious overgrown lawns attract animals with succulent food.
Wapiti character and lifestyle
Wapiti live in small herds, the leaders of which are older females. Males live their lives until the time of the rut. Deer activity is manifested in the evening and night. They do not like the sun, in the afternoon only on cloudy weather they go out onto the meadow. Wapiti almost all the time are engaged in the search for food on pastures and in copses.
Males and females are kept apart, except for the mating season, which begins in early autumn, in September. At this time, the males have to prove the strength and power of the leader and measure their strength with other applicants. Gon can be seen in the national parks of America.
The calling voice of the trumpeting male is loud and low, almost always ending with a whistle or roar. The scream of wapiti is piercing, sometimes resembling a screech. The extracted sounds have become the subject of study by specialists who have established that the special arrangement of the larynx allows air to break out in various ways.
Listen to the voice of wapiti
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Listen to the driving roar of wapiti
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Vibration arises from the movement of the nostrils through which the air stream passes. High-frequency sounds are born from movement through the glottis. A similar structure of the larynx brings the red deer closer to related deer.
The chilling scream reminds the characters of the film "The Lord of the Rings" - Nazgul. Wapiti deer do not even know how they can scare visitors to national parks, calling on relatives.
Deer fidelity does not exist, the winner of the duel receives all rights to the females of the herd. It lasts until the cold, until fatigue and exhaustion take their toll. Pregnant females become cautious, and in the pastures give way to males, who regain strength in the winter.
The diet of deer consists mainly of forbs, shoots of plants, buds and leaves, fallen fruits, acorns and nuts. Ripe berries become a treat for artiodactyls. In the hungry winter time, wapiti eat the bark of trees and even occasionally needles.
The deer eats a lot, so the traces of its meals are always noticeable: the grass is trampled, young bushes are gnawed. The search for food makes herds of deer constantly roam. In winter, animals go into the woods and finding traces of their stay is also not difficult: they will accept snow with traces of lodges, the bark of trees around is nibbled.
On the shores of water bodies, deer interest is tied to algae washed ashore. It happens that after them animals climb into the water and even dive to a depth of 5 m for a treat. Young deer are first fed mother’s fat and thick milk for up to 9 months.
But gradually, imitating her behavior, they try the first flowers and young juicy herbs. Pasture provides rapid growth of young animals - 1-2 kg per day! Then the grown up deer decide for themselves how to get on a lush meadow. Wapiti has a good scent.
Wapiti breeding and longevity
Deer become sexually mature by 1.5-2 years. But the difference between males is that they are not allowed to race from 3 to 6 years. During this period, they must prove that they have grown strong, healthy and strong for posterity, procreation.
Gaining strength, young deer become active and scream about their rights. The voices of males are heard for 5-10 km. During the rut, the animals are aggressive and ready to butt with everyone, they can attack a person.
Their usual behavior changes: they drink a lot, lose weight, break branches and rub against trees, beat the ground with their hooves and demonstrate the accumulated strength. Fights of opponents do not always happen, but if it comes to a fight, then the animals fight to exhaustion until the end. There were times when rivals were so mated in horns that they could not disperse and both died of starvation.
The first fawn appears at the female in three years. His mother hides him in thickets of grass from predators while she feeds nearby. A week later, the baby begins to step for the first time after his mother and gradually learn everything through imitation.
Live wapiti in the wild up to 20 years, and in reserves - up to 30 years. Wapiti red deer are considered the most harmless and kind animals, despite their large size and branched horns. Beauty and grace make them a national treasure.