GarLyn Zoo in Michigan's Beautiful Upper Peninsula


Sika Deer

 Sika Deer Herd at GarLyn Zoo Sika Deer at GarLyn Zoo

     Sika Deer are small Asian deer from areas like Japan and Formosa and resemble small elk. There are several species or sub-species of Sika Deer but I only know of 4 that are in the U.S. They range in size from around 50 to 100 pounds up to 200 pounds. The Sika Deer here at GarLyn Zoological Park, I believe are a cross of a couple of the sub-species. Sika Deer are relatively easy to keep and don't require fencing over 6 foot tall. (Michigan now requires 10 foot fence). They do very well on good hay (second cutting clover or alfalfa is ideal) and a small amount of grain daily. Fresh water should always be available. Their colors range from various shades of brown to almost jet black. Most of them shed their winter hair and become spotted for the summer and then shed again for winter and loose the spots. From our experience, they are very gentle deer and become quite tame and friendly allowing you to hand feed and pet them without being bottle raised, this makes them even more appealing as there isn't a lot of extra work involved in raising the babies.
     When alarmed Sika Deer let out a sharp barking sound and flare their rump area out to show the white of their hind ends. Then they prong or bounce like antelope away from whatever spooked them. They are also quite protective of their fawns and I have observed the mothers stamping and kicking at both dogs and cats that get too close, even if they are on the opposite side of the fence. The bucks, during the rut (breeding season) may bugle like elk but with a higher pitch. They also like a wallow of mud and water if available, to urinate in and rub their necks and bodies in, this is so they can get all pretty and good smelling to impress the ladies. They are fairly long lived, although I'm not sure just how long they will live, the buck pictured below is at least 12 years old.


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