Tuesday, June 10, 2014
At this time of year, it’s quite common to see a mum-to-be red Scottish deer patrolling around the edges of a field for some hours, eagerly looking for her calf.
Red deer migrated into Britain from Europe 11,000 years ago - they are one of six breeds living in Britain.
Red deer are very common in the Scottish Highlands, Dumfriesshire, Lake District, East Anglia and the south-west of England.
They live up to 18 years but the infant mortality rate can be high.
They graze on grass and dwarf shrubs such as heather and bilberry.
They talk to each other - stags roar and grunt, hinds bark whilst calves give squeal or bleat.
The breeding season, is from the end of September to November. The dominant stag will go on to mate with the hinds.
Except she hasn’t given birth yet. But her body is programmed to believe she should be looking for her baby, but really it means that the birth of her baby is imminent.
When the hind gives birth, her calf will be joining 12 others that have been born at Snettisham Park over the past few weeks.
Park manager Trevor Walters, who has worked there since 1986, said: “When a hind is due to give birth, she will isolate herself from the main herd. She will then give birth in private, will wash them, settle them and move them away to a fresh area to avoid predators such as foxes. Deer are a really intelligent animal.
“They tend to give birth when it’s light so they can move their calf to a safe area before it gets dark.”
The mothers will hide their calves among tall reeds to protect their young as much as possible.
“As they are red deer from Scotland, the calves have little white spots in their fur to help camouflage them from the golden eagle which is a predator up there,” added Mr Walters. The calves will be reared at the park for 18 months and some time after they will be sold on to deer farmers.