Weird question, I know.
I’d never actually seen a deer in real life until I moved up here five years ago. Now they walk around in the cemetery, which is awesome, or around my mum’s work building. Sometimes I catch them meandering around the street during the day. I even saw one walking out of someone’s yard on a jog one night. I love this place.
Back to deer shedding velvet though.
A few months ago, I ran into a photo on Pinterest of a deer with bloody antlers that had pieces of its own antlers hanging off. It looked like the deer had gone four rounds with a wood chipper with its antlers and tried to walk it off.
I did not like it.
Not at all.
Looked like the poor deer was in pain.
Thank heaven someone commented below and cleared everything right up with sciencey stuffs. When a deer’s antlers are fully formed, the blood vessels that covered them prior then harden and fall off.
Hence the gory looking velvet peeling off the brand new deer antlers.
Fast forward a few months and it was last December. My sister was wearing red antlers and I was wondering as to why anyone would sell red antlers when antlers are brown. Then the photo pinged somewhere in the back of my brain. And I was curious.
Of course, I had to go look for details.
Check it out.
Velvet on a deer’s antlers is what makes their antlers look fuzzy.
A deer sheds and grows their antlers like once every year. Which sounds exhausting and kinda counterproductive. Just keep the pair you have and if those fall off, then grow a new pair. But that’s not how deer work.
It goes like this. More sunlight means more testosterone. More testosterone means growing antlers. In order to do that, there needs to be a lot of nutrition.
Nutrition comes in the form of furry skin that’s made up of blood vessels and nerves. This velvet is what causes the antlers to grow so quickly. It feeds nutrition to the growing antlers, which grow stronger and stronger. Around about Fall, the antlers are brand new and ready for full use and the velvet dries up and starts to fall off. This only takes about a day.
For that one day, we see loads of pictures of deer rubbing their antlers against trees. I thought it was because they were itchy.
Nope. Wrong again. Thankfully. I don’t want them in pain or even a little itchy. I mean, they don’t have back scratchers or opposable thumbs to alleviate their itchiness.
They rub their antlers against trees to mark them with their scent. Kinda like a house cat. Or a werewolf. Just saying.
According to science, they also do it to grow stronger neck muscles.
I wonder how they figure these things out though.
No one has ever possessed an animal, read their minds, and then repossessed their own body and reported to a lab of scientists.
At least, not that I know about.
That would be kinda cool. For like a second. Then I’d want some sort of way to keep out possession by scientists. Sounds like a good book idea. But I digress.
(It would be a great way to learn about animals without experimenting on and torturing them.)
If you want some great photos of bright red antlers, check out the article below. It has ten great photos of vibrant red antlers. The deer look like they’re bleeding and falling apart. Real great idea for a creature in a novel that freaks people out but is then like, “Nope, just time to shed these babies”.
…. Animals don’t talk though? Sometimes I concern myself. Am I suggesting a were-deer?
Other Random Stuff About Deer Antlers
While we’re here, why not?
Deer typically use their antlers to fight for dominance. You know, for the rights to mate with a chick. They also use them to move things around and search for food. I guess that means they don’t need opposable thumbs. They have mini forklifts and built-in buckets for moving and hauling. Works for me.
What happens to the velvet once the deer sheds it?
Because the velvet is so rich in nutrients, sometimes the deer themselves eat it. Or other deer around them.
Can you imagine? You’re a deer, your velvet is shedding, and some random deer waddles on over and starts eating it. *awkward* Or maybe not. I mean, they do defecate where they stand, so I highly doubt eating one another’s shedded antler velvet is strange.
Other than deers, other wee creatures will eat the shedding velvet. Like birds.
Because, you know, food.
Oh, oh. And does (female deer) can grow antlers. Two kinds. One, the kind that’s a pseudohermaphrodite. These does have outer female parts and internal male parts. The second kind have velvet antlers.
Nature is freaky cool.
(Yes, I know, I know. Deer don’t waddle.)
What have we shed in our past that once helped us grow but we no longer needed in our lives?
What do we need to shed now?