Sika Deer (Cervus nippon) are native to eastern Asia, mainly Japan and China, but were introduced in ancient times to the Sulu Archipelago (Philippines) and in the 19th and 20th centuries to the British Isles, mainland Europe (Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Poland, western Russia, and Ukraine), Armenia, Azerbaijan, Madagascar, New Zealand, and the United States. Sika Deer have a long relationship with humans, having been farmed, selectively bred, and moved around the globe over centuries.
Sika Deer are typically associated with woodlands with dense undergrowth and adjacent open areas. They can occur up to 3000 m above sea level, but are sensitive to snow depth: more than 40 cm of snow is limiting. Peak activity is around dawn and dusk. Sika Deer are moderately social, living in small groups or alone, with males and females strongly segregated.
Sika Deer routinely jump lengths of 3 to 4 m (8 m maximum) and 1.7 m in height. Normal maximum lifespan for Sika Deer is 15 to 16 years, but maximum longevity in captivity is 25 years.
In their native range, Sika Deer are secure in Japan, but populations across much of their historical range on continental Asia are extinct or endangered due to hunting (for meat, hides, antler velvet, blood, and organs) and habitat loss.
- Mattioli, S. 2011. Family Cervidae. Pp. 350-443 in: Wilson, D.E. and Mittermeier, R.A., eds. Handbook of the Mammals of the World. Volume 2. Hoofed Mammals. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
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