Deer are a common sight in many areas of the world.
There are 43 species of deer divided into two subfamily groups: Old World and New World. The 3 most common deer in the United States are white-tailed deer, mule deer, and Columbian black-tailed deer.
They are known for their multi-point antlers and reddish-brown, brown, or gray coats. As even-toed ungulates, these mammals run from predators, hunters, and other dangers by running and bouncing in a motion called “stotting”.
Hunting, automobile accidents, and diseases, drastically shorten the lifespans of wild deer. However, in captivity, they can live up to 20 years of age.
Deer are herbivore ruminants, feasting on grasses, herbs, buds, fruits, and other vegetation. Males typically are larger than females, ranging in shoulder heights from 1.75 to 3.5 feet, and weights from 100 to 350 pounds.
Read on to learn more about how the following animals are similar to deer:
Scientific name: Antilope cervicapra
Quick summary: The blackbuck belongs to the antelope family and resembles deer in its overall appearance and diet.
The blackbuck, also called an Indian antelope, has a lean and muscular body like a deer. They range from 2.4 to 2.7 feet tall at shoulder height. Unlike deer, they have long, spiraled horns, instead of antlers.
As a bovid, they are in a different taxonomic classification along with goats and sheep. Yet, they are herbivores like deer, living in and grazing on dry woodlands and grassy plains. Blackbuck will travel long distances to locate water.
They are native to the Indian subcontinent but are found living in Pakistan and Nepal as well. Blackbucks are considered an endangered species and live up to 16 years in the wild.
Scientific name: Gazella bennettii
Quick summary: This mammal looks like a smaller version of a deer, in body stance and coloring.
The Chinkara, is another antelope, commonly called the Indian gazelle, living in Iran, Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan with a life expectancy of about 12 years.
It is smaller in stature than a deer at approximately 2 feet at shoulder height, weighing up to 50 pounds. However, its body stance resembles that of a deer.
Both males and females have lyrate (lyre-shaped) horns, with the females smaller in size.
They have reddish-buff bodies with white undersides, a black tail, and long, slender legs, much like common deer found in the United States. However, in winter, their coats are nearly all white.
They are agile runners, capable of jumping over 20 feet in height as they leap. They stamp their feet and hiss through their noses when threatened.
Like deer, the chinkara often feeds at night eating an herbivorous diet of grasses, leaves, and fruits. They can go for several days with water, obtaining hydration through vegetation and morning dew drops.
Scientific name: Gazella
Quick summary: Gazelles have slender and elegant frames like deer and also resemble them as herbivores, eating grass, plant shoots, and shrubbery in their habitats.
Gazelles, however, are Bovidae, in the family with antelopes, cattle, and goats. There are 19 species of gazelle, with various sizes in height at the shoulder, ranging from 2 feet to 5.5 feet, weighing 80 to 160 pounds.
These antelopes are found in Africa, Europe, and Asia, with longevity of 12 to 15 years of age.
Gazelles are tan-colored with white underbellies, a dark side stripe, and facial markings. They have paired horns that extend upward in a single line that do not shed.
Reminiscent of deer, they are graceful and fast runners, moving at speeds up to 60 miles per hour.
4. Roan Antelope
Scientific name: Hippotragus equinus
Quick summary: The roan antelope is a Bovidae that has a horse- and deer-like body shape, with pointed, tufted ears.
Similar to deer, the roan antelope has a reddish-brown coat with white spots on the flanks and hindquarters. However, its horns curve in long spirals up to 4 feet long.
They have a similar body shape to deer with their thick necks and slender legs, yet are slightly bigger. They are up to 4.6 tall at the shoulder and weigh up to 590 pounds.
Roan antelopes travel in herds throughout much of west and central Africa, for up to 17 years. They forage in savannas with open or sparsely wooded grasslands, medium to tall grass, and near water sources.
Like other deer, they consume taller grasses, leaves, and succulents.
5. Giant Sable
Scientific name: Hippotragus niger
Quick summary: Like deer, the giant sable has a reddish-brown coat with white markings on its legs, neck, and face, and similarly feeds on grasses and leaves.
This Bovidae may look like a deer at a glance with its similar body and expansive horns, yet it is an antelope.
Giant sables tend to live in forested areas near water and are found in the upper Cuanza basin, in central Angola, Africa. They thrive with lifespans of up to 19 years in the wild, and 22 in captivity.
This muscular mammal has a strong body like a deer, but it is considerably larger. They can grow as tall as 4.7 feet at shoulder height, weighing up to 600 pounds.
They also have differently-shaped scimitar-shaped horns that arch backward, growing to lengths up to 5 feet.
Scientific name: Oryx gazella
Quick summary: Gemsbok belongs to the Bovidae family, yet are like deer in that they have a similar appearance and herbivore diet.
They feed on bushes, grasses, and other vegetation in areas such as the Kalahari Desert, arid shrublands, and grasslands in Africa. The lifespan of this antelope is about 20 years, much like deer in captivity.
Gemsboks have a gray-brown coat, with black and white markings on the body and face. Their tails are long and black and their legs are black at the top with white bottoms.
Gemsboks are large antelopes. Their front chests are bulky, with a shoulder height of up to 3.9 feet, and weighing up to 660 pounds.
Both females and males have sharp and pointed paired horns, growing up to about 2 feet in length. They move differently than deer with a gait more like that of a horse.
7. Greater Kudu
Scientific name: Tragelaphus strepsiceros
Quick summary: They look like deer with their light brown coat colors, large round ears, and overall body shape.
The greater kudu also has white stripes that run down its sides for camouflaging. While similar in appearance, this deer-like herbivore antelope is quite large.
It grows to be about 5 feet at shoulder height, weighing up to 780 pounds. Their horns grow and spiral up to 3-feet in length.
Greater kudus are native to southern and eastern areas of Africa, living in mixed woodlands and mountain scrubs. The lifespan of a greater kudu is about 16 years.
Scientific name: Boselaphus tragocamelus
Quick summary: Its profile can look like a cross between a deer and a horse.
The nilgai is a large, Asian antelope typically found in central and southern India. Also called bluebuck, it belongs to the Bovidae family.
This large mammal grows up to 3.6 feet at shoulder height and weighs up to 550 pounds.
When looking at the Nilgai, it has a similar body shape to that of a deer and a horse. While not reddish in color like deer, it has a brownish-gray coat, with white markings on the legs, underside, and face.
Similar to deer, they eat a herbivorous diet, primarily feeding on grasses, small bushes, and succulents.
Like the lifespan of a deer in captivity, theirs is up to 20 years, yet they remain in the wild.
Scientific name: Tragelaphus angasii
Quick summary: The nyala is a South African antelope that resembles a deer in its coloring and diet.
Nyalas have a reddish-brown coat, like deer, yet also have white side stripes. Male nyalas have long hair on the neck and chest.
Their horns are yellow-tipped and have one or two twists as they extend upwards about 2.75 feet.
They are herbivorous grazers, which is the same as deer, foraging during the evening and night hours. They eat grass, fruits, flowers, twigs, and leaves. They live and eat in their habitats for up to 19 years.
The shoulder height of a nyala is up to 3.5 feet, and its weight is up to 400 pounds, making them similar in size to larger male deer.
10. Tibetan Antelope
Scientific name: Pantholops hodgsonii
Quick summary: The Tibetan antelope (chiru) looks much like a deer at first glance, as well as exhibits foraging behavior.
The Tibetan antelope resembles deer with their long and slender legs and reddish-brown coat. However, their legs are black-stripped and their coats are dense and wooly.
Instead of antlers, they have slender and curved horns up to 2 feet in length.
It lives in inhospitable areas such as high mountain steppes, and semi-desert areas of the Tibetan Plateau with an average lifespan of 8 years. This frigid alpine environment is tolerable because this mammal has thick wool.
It has a shoulder height of up to 3.3 feet and a weight of up to 77 pounds. Their light frame allows them to gallop up to 50 miles per hour (mph) in open areas.
Like other deer, they forage for their food. Tibetan antelopes search for food in the snow such as grasses, sedges (triangular-stemmed vegetation), and forbs (flowering, herbaceous plants).
11. Tibetan Gazelle
Scientific name: Procapra picticaudata
Quick summary: The Tibetan gazelle has a deer-like body and is found in mountainous and high-altitude areas of Qinghai, Tibet, and Gansu, consuming a deer-like diet.
While its body shape is like a deer, its appearance slightly varies. It has a light gray or brown coat with white markings on the legs, underside, and face.
Its rump has a white heart-shaped spot around the tail. It has two ridged horns that curve slightly backward about 1-foot long.
Its compact deer-like body is about 2 feet high at the shoulder. It weighs up to 51 pounds. It can run at speeds up to 35 miles per hour (mph).
It lives up to 10 years in its habitat and eats a diet like a deer. This includes foraging for seeds, shrubs, and forbs (flowering, herbaceous plants).
Scientific name: Antilocapra americana
Quick summary: Its body shape and ears, and curved horns closely resemble those of the deer.
Often called an American antelope or prongbuck, the pronghorn do not belong to the family of deer or antelope. It has its own taxonomic family classification, Antilocapridae.
Like deer in the United States, they are found only in North America ranging from southern Canada, through Wyoming (Red Desert and Yellowstone), to northern Mexico.
They live in open plains, grasslands, fields, deserts, and basins for 12 to 14 years.
A pronghorn’s overall height and body weight are like that of smaller deer with a shoulder height of up to 3 feet and a weight of up to 140 pounds.
These mammals also eat an herbaceous diet, foraging for perennial forbs (flowering, herbaceous plants), high-growing woody plants and leaves, and cacti.
13. Ladakh Urial
Scientific name: Ovis vignei
Quick summary: Its body shape with long and slender legs, and its light brown fur looks much like a deer’s.
The Ladakh urial is a wild sheep with a similar body shape to deer. It is found in the mountains of Central Asia, in particular Ladakh, India, living in that habitat for about 8 to 12 years.
Unlike the hair on a deer, Ladakh urials have a white thick beard that extends down the front chest. Males have curly horns and females have flat ones. However, they have short deer-like tails.
This endangered species is about 3 feet tall at shoulder height, weighing up to 130 pounds.
Scientific name: Capra falconeri
Quick summary: Like deer in North America, markhors are commonly found in wooded habitats of India.
Markhors are also called Chital, Cheetal, Spotted Deer, or Axis Deer, making them seem like they are of the deer family.
Despite the nicknames given to markhors, they are not deer at all. They are large wild goats with broad hooves and spiral horns that extend at a straight backward-angled length up to 5 feet.
They have considerable size, with a shoulder height of up to 3.75 feet, and a weight of up to 190 pounds. Like deer, their coat is reddish-gray, yet presents with a dark stripe along the back.
Similar to deer, markhors primarily eat grass, fruit, leaves, and flowers. On average they live 10 to 12 years in the wild, longer than wild common deer, but shorter than captive ones.
Scientific name: Okapia johnstoni
Quick summary: The okapi looks like a cross between a zebra with its stripes, and a deer with its body shape and ears.
Okapis are larger than common deer, at about 5 feet in shoulder height and a weight of up to 550 pounds. However, their body shapes with thick necks, slender legs, and board-leaf ears look like deer without antlers.
The mammals are often called the “forest giraffe” because they are a relative of the giraffe (Giraffidae).
Wild okapis live in the Ituri Rainforest in central Africa, with dense tropical habitats near river beds with a long lifespan of up to 30 years.
Like deer, they eat grasses, leaves, fruits, and fungi. However, they also consume red clay for salt and minerals.
16. Vietnamese Mouse Deer
Scientific name: Tragulus versicolor
Quick summary: It looks like a miniature or baby version of a deer with its reddish-brown, silver-backed, white-spotted coat.
However, despite its name, it is not a mouse or a deer. They are small ungulates of the family Tragulidae. They look like baby deer, and are about the size of a rabbit, with a shoulder height of 1-foot and a weight of fewer than 10 pounds.
They do not have antlers like deer. Instead, they have tusk-like incisors for territorial dominance and mating.
Much like deer, they eat herbaceous food. Due to their short stature, they consume food that is readily available to them on the ground, such as fallen fruits, young leaves, fungi, and shoots.
The Vietnamese mouse deer (chevrotain) is found in Vietnam in lowland, coastal forests. This quiet and shy species is difficult to track but is thought to live up to 14 years.
Scientific name: Muntiacus
Quick summary: Muntjacs are in the Old World deer family, bearing deer-like resemblance with their coat color and similarly-shaped ears.
They are often called “barking deer” for their dog-like call.
Their coat is reddish- or ginger-brown with a lighter underside and small tail. They also have broad leaf-like ears that look much like the common deer.
This small, stocky deer is about the size of a medium-sized dog. It has a shoulder height of appropriately 1.7 feet and weighs up to 40 pounds.
They are found in southern and southeastern Asian forests. Male muntjacs live in these habitats for up to 16 years, and females for up to 19.
This solitary mammal dwells in thick vegetation and consumes vegetation similar to other deer. Primarily, they eat trees, shrubs, nuts, fungi, herbs, and shoots.
Scientific name: Rusa unicolor
Quick summary: They look much like common deer in the United States in body shape and antler formation.
The sambar is an Old World deer species that is natively found in south Asia in India and Sri Lanka.
Sambars inhabit dry tropical forests, subtropical mixed forests, rainforests, and areas with broadleaved deciduous, evergreen, and coniferous areas near water sources.
While their lifespan in the wild is up to 12 years, they can live much longer in captivity, up to 28 years.
This deer is larger in height and overall size, growing up to be 5.25 feet tall at shoulder height, and weighing up to 1,200 pounds. Some sambars may look like deer with a reddish-brown coat in uniform coloring.
However, their coats are shaggy, and may also appear yellow-brown or dark gray. Additionally, some may have lighter-colored underbellies and rumps. Males also have a dense patch of mane hair.
Much like other deer, the males have multi-pointed antlers and consume herbivorous vegetation, such as berries, grasses, leaves, herbs, and bark.
Scientific name: Rucervus duvaucelii
Quick summary: The barasingha looks much like common deer in appearance, including its petal-shaped ears.
They have a deer-like reddish-brown coat and antlers with a shoulder height of about 3.6 feet, weighing about 80 pounds. They have wide antlers, up to 3-feet in width.
Like deer, barasinghas are herbivores eating primarily grasses and other vegetation. However, they also eat aquatic plants by dipping their heads under the water to eat. They are good swimmers and jumpers.
This is a species of Old World deer found in northern and central India, living up to 20 years in the wild.
They are commonly called “swamp deer” due to their swampy habitats. Barasinghas are also found in river floodplains, tall grasslands, and mangroves.
20. Red Deer
Scientific name: Cervus elaphus
Quick summary: Like the common deer, it has a reddish-brown coat and branching antlers that grow up to 4 feet in length.
Similar in appearance to other deer, the red deer is one of the largest. It has a shoulder height of up to 4.25 feet and a weight of up to 440 pounds.
This species of Old World deer is native to Europe, the Caucasus Mountains, Iran, Anatolia, and western Asia.
Their herbaceous diets consist of grass, violets, woody growth, clover, and dandelions. They can live up to 20 years in the wild, with a lifespan like captive common deer.
Interestingly, these deer are more social than others, with a matriarchal hierarchy.
Scientific name: Cervus canadensis
Quick summary: Elks are a stocky version of common Old World deer with their overall appearance and multiple-pointed antlers.
Elk are also referred to as “wapiti”, a Native American word meaning “light-colored deer”.
These ungulates can be found in Europe and North America, living 10 to 13 years, on average, in the wild. Similar to other deer, their reddish-brown fur appears darker in the winter.
Elk are very large, with a shoulder height of up to 7 feet, and a weight of up to 1,500 pounds. Their antlers can grow up to 7 feet long with at least 6 points, off one main beam.
22. Pygmy Brocket
Scientific name: Mazama nana
Quick summary: The pygmy brocket has short stubby antlers, and broad-leaf ears, often looking like a young or early Spring-season deer.
This mammal belongs to the New World deer family and is found in the Central and South American rainforests of southern Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina. They have a varied lifespan of 7 to 16 years.
Like other deer, they have a reddish-brown coat with a white underside and similar ears, yet their antlers are stubby.
These short antlers give the impression that they are young or like deer in the Spring when they start to regrow antlers. Like young deer, they are smaller in shoulder height at about 2.6 feet and weigh up to 106 pounds.
Similar to many other deer, they eat vegetation found in their habitats, such as fruits, leaves, and shoots.
Scientific name: Pudu
Quick summary: It looks like a common deer in miniature form, with a long body, slender legs, and broad leaf-shaped ears.
The pudu is the smallest mammal in the New World deer family.
It lives in the Andean mountains throughout Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, and Argentina in temperate rainforests in South America, with a lifespan of about 15 years.
While their overall body appearance compares to deer, they are much smaller. They grow to be up to 1.4 feet tall at shoulder height, weighing about 26 pounds.
Unlike larger deer, they do not grow large antlers. Instead, they grow small spike-like ones that extend to about 3 inches tall.
As solitary animals, they are active both during the day and night, foraging on herbivorous vegetation. This includes vines, sprouts, ferns, tree bark, fallen fruit, herbs, and buds.
Succulent vegetation provides hydration and they therefore can go long periods without access to direct water sources.
Scientific name: Rangifer tarandus
Quick summary: These animals may also be referred to as caribou, and like common deer, they have physical features that include long legs and multi-point antlers.
Interestingly, females of this species also grow antlers.
Their coat is often white or gray to allow them to camouflage with the arctic tundra. Their shoulder height is up to 3.9 feet and weighs up to 400 pounds.
Reindeer are in the New World deer family and are found in the Arctic tundra of North America, Asia, and Europe.
Like other deer, reindeer forage to eat vegetation. Their diet includes food sources that grow in their cold habitats such as moss, fungi, ferns, lichen, leaves, and bark.
However, climate change is bringing in parasites that cause them to spend more time avoiding them and less time feeding. This may have a negative impact on their typical lifespan of 15 years.
Scientific name: Alces alces
Quick summary: Moose belongs to the New World deer family, and are found in Asia, Europe, and North America.
Moose is the largest of the deer species. They are up to 6 feet tall at the shoulder and weigh up to 1,500 pounds.
Like common deer, they have long legs and multi-pointed antlers. Moose antlers, however, can grow up to 6 feet wide.
Despite their size, moose are good swimmers and can run at speeds up to 25 miles per hour on land. They have an impressive lifespan as compared to other deer and deer-like mammals, of 15 to 24 years.
Similar to deer, moose can live in various habitats that offer ample vegetation. They live in areas that include swamps, forests, wetlands, mountains, and lowlands.
These solitary mammals eat tree twigs, grasses, weeds, and aquatic vegetation.
Is It Painful For Deer To Grow Antlers?
It does not hurt to grow antlers. However, pain can result from injury to the velvety skin before it is rubbed off, or if there is damage at the point where the skull and antlers connect.
While the antlers grow, blood flows throughout the sensitive nerve-filled velvety skin that surrounds them. Once the blood flow stops and the antlers harden, the velvety skin is rubbed off.
Therefore, a broken antler will not hurt. However, the velvety skin that is actively growing can be painful if damaged before it is done growing and rubbed off naturally.
Can You Tell The Age Of A Deer By Its Antlers?
Since deer shed their antlers annually, it can be difficult to tell their age by antlers only.
To determine the age of a deer, it is better to look at other physical characteristics. This includes the following:
- Legs: Deer under 2½ years old have disproportionately long legs.
- Rump & Chest: Deer under 2½ years old have larger rumps than chests.
- Neck: By 4½ years old, a deer’s neck blends into the chest in one line.
- Stomach: Young deer have tight and athletic stomachs, but by 4½ the bellies start to sag.
Why Do Deer Lose Their Antlers Every Year?
Antlers are shed annually in the winter and regrow in the spring. They are made of bones that branch out, with an eventual width of about 2 feet (25 inches). Some species have tines that grow off of the main antler beam.
A velvet skin with fine hair covers immature antlers. This has blood vessels and nerves in it to facilitate the rapid growth of the antlers each year. As the antlers grow, the velvety skin dies, and deer will rub their antlers against trees to remove this velvety layer.
Males will shed their antlers due to a drop in testosterone, after the end of the breeding season, every year.
This dramatic and sudden decrease in hormones causes cells to break down in the pedicle (connection of antler to skull), weakening it enough to fall off.
With some exceptions (i.e. reindeer), typically males (bucks) are the only ones with antlers. Females (does) with an abundance of testosterone may develop antlers.
This is a natural process and does not cause pain to the deer.
The animals mentioned in this article share traits that make them much like deer. Yet, interestingly, many of these animals are in different taxonomic classifications.
Often it is their body shape, size, coloring, ears, and expansive horns that make them appear as if they are relatives.
In many cases, animals that look like deer belong to Bovidae, which consists of cattle, goats, and sheep.
These like-deer mammals are found living all over the world in a variety of habitats. However, they all consume herbivorous diets, foraging for vegetation that is native to the area that they live in.