Who are the Cervidae?

The Cervidae is a family of animals that contain some of North Americas more well known mammals.  The Cervidae is very wide spread and capable of mastering many ecosystems or habitats and is more commonly referred to as the deer.  Many people think of the deer being one particular animal, but the term deer is used to refer to many different species, including elk, fallow deer, roe deer, reindeer and a few other less known species.  Below are some common traits found in the deer family.

Common Traits of Cervidae:

  • Mammals
  • Hoofed
  • Ruminants
  • All males have antlers
  • Browsers (type of herbivore)
  • Have two molts per year
  • Have very good night vision

What do the Cervidae eat?

Deer are browsers which is a type of herbivore that forages for plants, but tends to stay away from grasses. Deer will usually focus on eating fresh leaves, forbs, new shoots from plants, fungus, occasional fruits, and other herbaceous plants.   Deer species will eat grass if need be, but due to high nutritional dietary requirements they will focus on higher quality and easier to digest plants.  Since deer are ruminants they ferment their food the same as a cow would, but they ferment and digest their food much quicker they other ruminants. Learn more about ruminants in the Mammal Center.

We are going to be reviewing lots of interesting species from the family Cervidae including the Reindeer, which is an important Animal of the Week.  So, don't forget to head over to the reindeer center in the kids zone to learn about this animal.


Keep Exploring Defenders!