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My spiker red deer skulls (part 2)


On Friday evening, Dad was out stalking when he saw this 14 month old red deer stag. It's a spiker deer, which is the same type of deer I wrote about last week and that I am going to write about this week. It's called a 'spiker' (or 'spike' or sometimes a 'pricket') because it is young and it's first antlers only have one spike or point. The antlers in the picture look bigger than they actually are because they are still in velvet, which is a fur which is over the antlers when they are growing. Soon the velvet will fall off and the antlers will have finished growing.

This is the main spiker skull I am going to write about this week:

This skull is one that is on my bedroom wall. I found it ages ago in a gamekeepers pit in a private deer wood near my house. It is in good condition but the bones at the tip of the nose have fallen off.

The most unusual thing about this skull was the teeth:

Like humans, deer have baby teeth (which are also called milk teeth or deciduous teeth) which get pushed out and replaced by adult teeth. In the picture above, the teeth which are in upper case are adult teeth and the ones which are in lower case are baby teeth. You can see that the first adult premolar (PM1) is still coming through, but the baby tooth that was there has already fallen out. The other premolar teeth teeth (pm2 and pm3) are the baby teeth, but if you look from the side you can see something interesting:

Underneath the baby pm2 and pm3 teeth you can see the adult PM2 and PM3 teeth coming through, which means the baby teeth were just about to fall out when the stag died. The baby teeth are so loose I have to put blu-tac on them to stop them falling out. These are what the baby teeth look like when you pull them out.

They have got worn down, almost to the root (the spikes that hold them in). This next picture is what the rest of the top teeth look like when you pull out the baby teeth.

The PM1, PM2 and PM3 teeth are coming through almost at the same time. When those teeth are through, the deer will have all it's adult teeth. A red deer gets all its adult teeth when it is 2½ years old, so this deer must have been between two and 2½ years old. The skull I wrote about last week was younger, and it was about 1½ years old.

I found a similar deer to this in a wood about three miles away from this one. It had started to rot down but I never went back to collect the bones.

This is another spiker skull I found in the same wood, but it isn't intact and I only found the top of the skull. One of the antlers is broken but I don't know if it got broken before or after death:

If you look closely at it you can see it has been chewed. Deer chew bones and old antlers to get calcium, because it is hard to get calcium from their normal food.

Spiker deer usually still live with their mums because they are young. Here is a spiker deer that my dad saw in February last year. His right antler looks like it has been broken.

Here is a different spiker deer with his mum. He looks like he has broken an antler as well.

Next week I am going to write more about baby deer and other baby animals I have seen so far this year !

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Jacob said...

Wow. Jake, do you know how the antlers become spikers? Is it an illness, a general imperfection, or what?

Jake said...

Spiker deer are usually young deer and it's their first set of antlers that grow like this, then they fall off and grow again bigger bigger every year. But if deer don't have a good diet then the antlers can grow wrong so I suppose even older deer could have spikes if they are poorly or don't have much food. But I have never seen an older spiker deer.

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