Red deer rut roars on
Friday, 05 Oct 2012
Roaring and charging can only mean one thing…a rut.
Tension and testosterone levels are rising amongst the red deer stags in the Highlands, as the annual rut gets well underway at the Highland Wildlife Park. The rut is an annual occurrence for red deer, meaning that the breeding season has kicked off for the Park's 45 strong herd. Rutting sees top stags competing for dominance and control of the hinds. As the weather grows colder the rut will grow more intense.
For now it is Thor who is with the hinds, but this could change at any time as his arch rival Snap is never far off.
Stags spend the spring and summer months building themselves up, this ensures that Thor and Snap are in peak condition for the rut, shedding the velvet coating from their antlers to reveal the strong bone underneath - making for a dangerous weapon. To maintain control of the herd and the hinds, Thor has been continuously roaring to keep any competition away, however sometimes this is not enough and he has to chase the other stags away.
Britain's largest land mammal, Scottish red deer were once woodland creatures, but due to habitat loss created by forest clearance, these majestic animals have adapted to herd life in the Highlands on open moorland. These animals take their name from their reddish coloured coats which are short in summer but grow darker in colour, and thicker in winter to insulate them from the severe conditions of the high open grounds in which the live.
Morag Sellar, head keeper of hoofstock at Highland Wildlife Park, said:
"The rut is the breeding season for the red deer. Now that the weather has turned colder the stags are roaring.
"Each stag is in prime condition and his intention is to breed with every female in the herd. Weather plays a major factor in the rut so a fine frosty snap will set the sparring and roaring off. Stags battle to take control of the females, known as a harem. For now it is a fine 14 pointer, known as Thor who is the dominant male. With constant challenges from the other males he can never relax and let down his guard.
"As the rut continues it will be interesting to see who wins the hinds!"
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