Red deer Cervus elaphus

The red deer is Scotland’s largest deer. Males have large, branching antlers, increasing in size as they get older. These impressive antlers can measure up to one metre in breadth and weigh as much as 15kg. Red deer are dark russet-brown in colour, with a paler buff rump patch and a pale tail. Look out for herds of large, sturdy deer with branching antlers.


During the autumnal breeding season, known as the ‘rut’, males bellow to proclaim their territory and will fight over the females, sometimes injuring each other with their sharp antlers. Red deer live on moorland and mountainsides, as well as grasslands near to woodland. They can be seen in deer parks throughout the country.


  • Length: 1.7-2.6m
  • Height: 1.2m at the shoulder
  • Weight: 100-340kg
  • Average lifespan: 16-18 years




Common in Scotland. Also found in the Lake District, Exmoor, the New Forest and Thetford Forest.

When to see

Jan – Dec


  • Within a few weeks of shedding old antlers, new ones will start to grow covered in a soft skin called ‘velvet’, which nourishes the antlers with blood vessels. Antler-growing is an energy-intensive activity and stags often lose weight during this process.

Common name

Red deer

Species name

Cervus elaphus

IUCN Red List status

Least concern

When to see in Scotland

Jan – Dec

Where to see in Scotland

Scottish Wildlife Trust reserves such as Rahoy hills or Keltneyburn.

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