Red Deer are one of the largest deer species. The red deer inhabits most of Europe, the Caucasus Mountains region, Asia Minor, Iran, parts of western Asia, and central Asia. It also inhabits the Atlas Mountains region between Morocco and Tunisia in northwestern Africa, being the only species of deer to inhabit Africa. Red deer have been introduced to other areas, including Australia, New Zealand and Argentina. In many parts of the world, the meat (venison) from red deer is used as a food source.
Generally, the male (stag or hart) red deer is typically 175 to 260 cm (69 to 100 in) long and weighs 160 to 240 kg (350 to 530 lb); the female is 160 to 210 cm (63 to 83 in) long and weighs 120 to 170 kg (260 to 370 lb). Shoulder height is about 95 to 130 cm (37 to 51 in). There are a number of subspecies of Red Deer and they differ in size depending on their region. The Red Deer in the Carpathian region (C. e. elaphus), weigh up to 500 kg (1,100 lb). While the Corsican red deer (C. e. corsicanus) weighs about 80 to 100 kg (180 to 220 lb).
Only the stags have antlers, which start growing in the spring and are shed each year, usually at the end of winter. Antlers typically measure 71 cm (28 in) in total length and weigh 1 kg (2.2 lb), although large ones can grow to 115 cm (45 in) and weigh 5 kg (11 lb). Antlers are made of bone which can grow at a rate of 2.5 cm (1 in) a day. They have a soft coating of velvet that helps to protect the newly grown bone.
Mature red deer (C. elaphus) usually stay in single-sex groups for most of the year. During the mating season, called the rut, mature stags compete for the attentions of the hinds and will then try to defend the hinds (females) they attract. Rival stags challenge opponents by belling and walking in parallel. This allows combatants to assess each other’s antlers, body size and fighting prowess. If neither stag backs down, a clash of antlers can occur, and stags sometimes sustain serious injuries.