We can easily decide which one is a buck or stag and which one’s a doe by looking at the antlers deer have! That’s because we all know that only male deer can have antlers.
But have you ever imagined a female deer with antlers on its head? Most probably you haven’t thought about it but it is possible! So, do female deer have antlers? If yes, then which one has them and why!
Table of Contents
- What Deer have Antlers?
- Antler Growth and the Gender
- Female Deer and Antlers
- Reason for Antler Growth
- Wrap Up
What Deer have Antlers?
Antlers are the sign of the male deer. This is a symbol of masculinity according to some researchers. These are grown by the male deer and it is a visual cue that gives the sign of health and the genetic quality to the other gender.
And a specific hormone called testosterone is the reason behind the antler. While in men deer, this is high, you won’t get to see this hormone is women deer. This is what changes the outlook of both of these genders.
Antler Growth and the Gender
The antlers of the deer grow annually. In the late spring, the male deer are seen growing a new set of antlers. It starts from at the pedicle.
These coincide when it is time to breed. In the late spring and summer, the antlers get rich blood supply. With this, it gets hair like membrane. In the August and September, these are fully grown and hard.
Throughout the breeding season, this gender maintains the hardened antlers. But if there is pedicle injury or velvet injury, there’s a chance of deformed injury too.
So, why do female deer no have antlers like the male ones? In rare cases, female deer also have antlers but not all of them. The basic reason for the male deer growing antlers is their testosterone level. The male have high testosterone levels. To grow antlers, a deer must have elevated level of testosterone and the females lack this. This is a male hormone and so, women are not seen with the antlers just like the male deer.
Female Deer and Antlers
You already know that antlers are grown by females. But at times, female deer are seen growing antlers too. So, what female deer have antlers and why does it happen? Some of the female deer that are seen growing antlers are facing hormone issues.
The fact that grows antlers in females is related to the regular of the hormone testosterone. However, this is a very rare issue and is not seen much.
Female Deer Species with Antlers
But are there any female deer species that grow antlers regularly? Yes, there is some female deer family that grows antlers.
Caribou or Reindeer is a deer species in which the female grow antlers regularly like the male deer of any other species. This is the only family among the deer that have female antlers.
However, there are reasons behind it. In the cold regions, these deer require to compete vigorously compared to the other animals when it comes to food. With the help of the antlers, they are capable of digging the snow.
For bringing up the food source and in short, for survival, these deer tend to have antlers- regardless of whatever gender they are! Just like other deer, the antlers of this specific deer family have been shed annually.
The female keep their antler until spring arrives. To dig the snow for food, especially when they are pregnant provides them with necessary nutrition.
According to studies, these deer are called Reindeer in Europe, and in North America, they are called Caribou. They both are the same; the name only differs according to the place. Also, it is possible Caribou female deer not have antlers. They only have antlers in places where the food is insufficient.
Note: A specific type of whitetails doe can also have antlers and these are usually covered in velvet. These does have female reproductive system and give birth to fawns. In rare cases, pseudo-hermaphrodites also have antlers as female deer.
The interesting fact is they have male reproductive organs internally. And in the external part, they have female reproductive organs. Among the 10,000 whitetail deer, you will only find one or two female deer with antlers.
Reason for Antler Growth
As we have discussed, antler is a thing for the male. But why do male only grow antlers? What is the work of this body part?
Antlers and Masculinity
There is a decent connection between antlers and masculinity. As we have told you before, it provides a sigh of health and genetic quality to the opposite gender. The female deer judge the male deer depending on the antlers.
With this attribute, the female deer can determine the quality of potential mates. With the help of the deer, they evaluate the male antlers.
Even the researchers have supported this idea for a long period now. However, antler as a prediction of masculinity or a predictor of mating success is not scientifically proven and can be wrong too.
Another reason that antlers are grown by male deer or stag is to use the antlers as their weapon when it comes to fighting. Animals in the wild cannot live without struggles. This struggle for food and survival requires fighting.
This is when the antlers come in act. Not only against the other animals but also among themselves, male deer have to increase dominance. This occurs when it is breeding season. A male deer must prove them strong to the female and other males to get a mating partner.
And to establish the dominance, the antlers help. To prove this, they often lock antlers with another male. This is a way to understand who the stronger one is. They push each other to prove it.
Antler is a sign of masculinity because this grows with the male hormone. The hormone is not present in women’s bodies. However, there can be situations when females can carry a high level of a specific hormone. And this is when they grow antlers. But if we ask us, in easier words, antlers are the signs of a buck and you will rarely see a female carrying them on their head!