Pudu puda is found in the rainforests in the temperate zones of Argentina and Chile.
Biogeographic Regions: neotropical (Native )
Southern South America
The southern pudú (Pudu puda) can be found in southern Chile and adjacent areas of southwestern Argentina. Populations exist at low density in hill and lowland temperate rainforests (Miller 1973). In Chile, the species’ range is bounded in the north by the Maule province, and the Strait of Magellan in the south, extending between S 35° to S 49° (Wemmer 1998) (Meier et al 2007). In Argentina, its range extends from the southwest region of the Neuquén Province and to the southwest region of the Santa Cruz Province, along the Andean foothills, or from S 39° to S 43°. Los Alerces National Park has also been put forth as the definitive southern border of Pudu puda’s Argentinian range (Ramilo 2001). The southern pudú occupies lower elevations than the northern pudú, living between sea level and 1700m, below the snow line (Miller et al 1973). Maximum altitudes ranging from 1000m (Hershkovitz 1982) to 2000m have also been reported. Chile’s Chiloe Island boasts a population of southern púdu, as do both primary and secondary forests on the Llanquihue Province mainland (Wemmer 1998).
A number of parks and protected areas are host to populations of southern púdu. These include Los Alerces, Anexo Puelo, Lago Puelo, Los Arrayanes, and Nahuel Huapi National Parks in Argentina, and Vicente Perez Rosales, Conguillo, Los Paraguma, Nahwelbuta, Laguna San Rafael, Puyehue, and Pirihueico National Parks in Chile (Wemmer 1998). Presence of Pudu puda in many of these parks, including Lanín and Los Arrayanes National Parks has been reported by some sources but ultimately remains unconfirmed by any others (Heinomen et al 1997). Historical records dating back to the 1800s argue for the presence of the southern pudú on the Huemul Peninsula, and other locations outside of their current range (Ramilo 2001). This would indicate a significant shrinking of the Pudu puda’s geographic distribution.
Southern pudu are the smallest deer in the world, ranging from 600 to 825 mm in total body length and with a shoulder height from 250 to 430 mm. The coat is composed of long coarse hair. The body color is a buffy agouti pattern. The middle back is a reddish brown color, while the face, outer surface of the ears, narial patch, chin and under side are reddish. The fawns have a white spotted coat. The body is low to the ground with short thick legs. The eyes and the ears are small compared with the body size. The tail is almost non-exsistent. Males have short, less than 100 mm, spike antlers. (Nowak, 1997)
Range length: 600 to 825 mm.
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry
Sexual Dimorphism: ornamentation
Average mass: 10000 g.
Habitat and Ecology
The climate in the habitat of P. puda consists of a short dry summer and a mild wet winter. The yearly rainfall is 74-150 inches. Pudu prefer dense underbrush and bamboo groves because they offer protection from predators. They can be found anywhere from sea level to 3,200 meters elevation. (Grzimek, 1990)
Range elevation: 3200 (high) m.
Habitat Regions: temperate ; terrestrial
Terrestrial Biomes: forest
Habitat and Ecology
The Southern pudu (Pudu puda) is one of the the smallest deer in the world, with
adults commonly weighing less than 10kg. There are two species of puduthe Northern pudu
and the Southern pudu. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature
(IUCN) Red List, the Southern Pudu puda inhabits the humid, dense areas of temperate
forestusually secondgrowth or previously disturbed forestsin Chile and Argentina. Their
relatively small sizehaving an average shoulder height of 40 cm and headbody length of
80cm as adults is considered an adaptation that allows the pudu to slip through the dense
undergrowth that the species is endemic to. For food resources, the pudu has many options; it
can subsist on grass, shrubs, vines, seeds, twigs, bark, and corn as well as avelianas fruit,
forb species, flowers, new leaves, and shoots of native trees. Since pudus do not consume
other animals and consume only plant life, they are primary consumers and therefore are on
the second trophic level of their ecosystem.
In Argentina the pudu is found in the National Parks, including Lenin, Nahuel Huapi,
Lago Puelo, and Los Alerces. It is usually a solitary animal except when young accompany
mothers. The Northern Pudu, on the other hand, lives in Peru, Ecuador, and Columbia. There
are limited studies of pudu as they live in “almost impenetrable underbrush, made in lowlands
from tiaca, avellano, chilco, maqui, and luma, and in high latitudes from quila bamboo,”
(Bubenik, Eugenia, et al. 2014). Furthermore, pudus “maintain tunnels, which provide them
with a refuge from their natural predator, the puma,” (Bubenik, Eugenia, et al. 2014). They end to have a home range 16 to 26 hectares large and dung piles are found near their
established trails and resting places. Moreover, the Southern pudu can be found on “high
mountainsides up to 1,700 metres above sea level, but also at much lower elevations and
along the coast,” (Wildscreen Arkive 2014). The Southern pudu also tries to “seek protection
from the sun beneath a shady canopy or in valleys, as they appear to heatintolerant,” and
experiences “high levels of yearlong precipitation, mild, wet winters and short, dry summers,”
(Robidoux 2014). Mild winters are essential as pudus are of such short stature that they may
have difficulty traversing deep snow.
Southern pudu eat fallen fruit, ferns, vines and small tree foliage. Pudus move slowly as they look for food, often standing up on their hind legs to test the wind. They reach food by standing on their hind legs and jumping on fallen trees. They also may press down on ferns and saplings until they break off. Pudu bend over bamboo shoots and walk across them while they are horizontal to feed on upper foliage. They feed on the bark of young saplings approximately 6 to 12 inches off the ground. Pudu can go for long periods without drinking water. They may obtain sufficient water from their food. (Grzimek,1990)
Plant Foods: leaves; wood, bark, or stems; fruit
Primary Diet: herbivore (Folivore , Frugivore )
Pudu puda are very susceptible to parasites, a problem made worse by their increasingly frequent contact with domestic dogs. The most common parasites include bladder worms, lung worms, and various types of round worms. (Grzimek, 1990)
Life History and Behavior
Perception Channels: tactile ; chemical
Status: captivity: 12.5 years.
Status: wild: 10.0 years.
Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
Pudu mate in the fall and give birth in the spring, from November to January. The gestation period is approximately 202 to 223 days. Only one fawn is born a year. At birth the young weigh less than one kilogram. It takes three months for the fawn to become full sized, and six months for females and eighteen months for males to reach sexual maturity. (Nowak, 1997)
Breeding interval: Southern pudu breed once yearly.
Breeding season: Mating occurs in the fall.
Range number of offspring: 1 (high) .
Average number of offspring: 1.
Range gestation period: 202 to 223 days.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 6 months.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 18 months.
Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; viviparous
Average birth mass: 900 g.
Average number of offspring: 1.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
Sex: male: 320 days.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
Sex: female: 274 days.
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Pudu puda
Below is the sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.
See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen.
Other sequences that do not yet meet barcode criteria may also be available.
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Download FASTA File
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Pudu puda
Public Records: 1
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- 1996Vulnerable (VU)
- 1994Insufficiently Known (K)
- 1965Status inadequately known-survey required or data sought
Pudu are listed as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. The main factors that are threatening P. puda include the destruction of habitat, the introduction of roe and fallow deer from Europe, and domestic dogs. Pudu cannot compete for food with the roe and fallow deer. The population of puda has stabilized in Chile as a result of the tapering off of habitat destruction. The Game Preservation Director of Chile's Natural Forest Administration issued a statement saying that P. puda will survive, as long as its habitat does. Pudu puda is not currently threatened with immediate extinction, but its future is uncertain. Despite a study conducted by the World Wildlife Fund, the number of P. puda in the wild is still unknown. (Grzimek,1990)
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: vulnerable
Date Listed: 06/14/1976
Lead Region: Foreign (Region 10)
Where Listed: Southern South America
Population location: Southern South America
Listing status: E
For most current information and documents related to the conservation status and management of Pudu puda, see its USFWS Species Profile
A captive breeding program is currently underway (Concepcion University, Chile) and there are plans to reintroduce animals into three national parks (Toledo pers. comm.). Recommended conservation actions include: initiate coordinated research to examine habitat requirements, food habits, and behavioral ecology; determine impact of feral dogs. Feral dogs are also very significant threats in Argentina. Also, determine effect of introduced wild pigs, whose distribution is greater than that of the pudu; there is 100% overlap of the distribution of wild pigs and pudus and undertake status surveys to establish extent of habitat decline and forest fragmentation; use information to identify priority areas for Southern pudu conservation and develop coordinated program to manage species throughout range; strengthen existing protected areas management; interchange of captive animals among captive breeding programs for self maintenance to reduce inbreeding, genetically manage the international captive population to reduce inbreeding; and conduct research on reproduction, nutrition, and behavior.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has classified the southern pudú as “vulnerable” with criteria A2cd+3cd, indicating a ≥ 30% decline in population size in the last 12 years, largely based on decreasing habitat size and quality, and predation by dogs. Another ≥30% decrease in population is expected for the next 12 years. Local site management, captive breeding, education, sub-national legislation, and national enforcement are all listed by the IUCN as required conservation actions. The southern pudú is listed under Appendix I by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), a status reserved for the “most endangered” species which are currently threatened with extinction. This listing severely prohibits all commercial trade of Pudu puda specimens, with trade allowed in only exceptional, non-commercial cases.
The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS) does not list either species of púdu under its conservation provisions, although migratory behavior has been reported by multiple sources (Vidal et al 2012) (Yepes 1943). This evidence for pudú migration remains unconfirmed, however, and the southern púdu likewise remains absent from the CMS’ protected species list.
The southern pudú is said to be easier to maintain in captivity than the northern variety (Benirschke 2004). Argentina operated a captive breeding program for the southern pudú out of Nahuel Huapi National Park from 1978 to 1990 (Meier et al 2007). When this program was closed down, 10 pudú were successfully reintroduced on Victoria Island in Lake Nahuel Huapi, where a population persists to this day. Chile’s Concepcion University also leads an international captive breeding program.
The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has additionally organized the Species Survival Program (SSP), which involves the captive breeding of pudús at various international zoos as an attempt to improve the genetic viability of zoo-kept populations. This program does not seem to plan on reintroducing any pudú back to the wild, to improve those populations, but the WCS is also working directly to curb Chilean and Argentinian habitat loss. 135 individual pudú currently exist in zoos worldwide, according to the International Studbook distributed by the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums, compared to the 12 individuals reported in 1978 (Hershkovitz 1982). However, illegal collecting for zoos and other private collections has been implicated in the decline of wild Pudu puda populations (Wemmer 1998), so the utility of these captive pudú from a conservation standpoint remains to be seen.
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