Everyone knows that deer have antlers, but they’re certainly not the only animals with antlers.
Very similar in their shape and content to horns, antlers are a crucial tool to many animal species, and some of the most famous animals with antlers are:
- Mountain Reindeer
- White-tailed Deer
- Black-tailed Deer
- Rocky Mountain Elk
- Roosevelt Elk
- Manitoban Elk
- Porcupine Caribou
- Red Deer
Table of Contents
Scientific name (genus): Pudu
There are two species in the Pudu genus, and they’re the world’s smallest deer. We can tell the difference between northern pudu – usually found in the north of South America – and southern pudu – found in the south of South America.
These deer are usually never taller than 17 inches, while the southern pudu is slightly larger than the northern pudu. The heaviest pudu ever weighed in at 30 pounds – just to paint a picture of how tiny they are.
When it comes to antlers, they shed annually and they can grow up to 3 inches in length. However, in reality, they rarely exceed an inch in length. Because of their small size – they look like horns, more than antlers.
2. Mountain Reindeer
Scientific name: Rangifer tarandus tarandus
It might be a thing of legend, but this species of deer is certainly real. Found only in Norway, particularly in western Scandinavia, reindeer can reach a weight of over 300 pounds.
Their antlers are curved, reaching lengths of up to 50 inches. They use their antlers primarily to fight other males during breeding season to establish dominance, but also to warn off predators.
In the wild, these animals have very few predators because of their size. The only real threat is humans, while lynx and wolverines are known to prey on old, sick reindeer.
3. White-tailed Deer
Scientific name: Odocoileus virginianus
The white-tailed deer is arguably the most well-known and most widespread deer on the planet. We can find them all over North and Central America, but also in parts of South America and a large part of Europe.
Given how common they are, different subspecies have developed due to geographical differences between areas. We now recognize 26 subspecies of these animals with antlers, and even more will most likely be introduced in the future.
They usually weigh up to 300 pounds, while extreme individuals can weigh up to 400 pounds. Males are the ones to grow antlers, usually no wider than 25 inches, but one in ten thousand females also has antlers!
Scientific name: Alces alces
The moose is the largest and most definitely the heaviest species in the deer families, making them the largest animals with antlers. Their natural territory ranges from North America (particularly Canada) to Europe and New Zealand.
They prefer living in colder areas, and the species in Europe aren’t the same as the species in North America. When it comes to antlers, they can grow to be larger than 79 inches in width, while the widest pair of antlers ever was 83 inches across!
5. Black-tailed Deer
Scientific name: O. h. columbianus
These animals with antlers are much rarer than their white-tailed counterparts, as we only find them in western North America, the Northwest, and British Columbia.
Because of their large ears, we also know them as the Mule deer. Their antlers can be as wide as 3 feet, but that depends on the exact subspecies – currently, there are four of them.
6. Rocky Mountain Elk
Scientific name: Cervus canadensis nelsoni
In Europe, the moose is also known as the elk. However, elk and moose are two completely different families of deer and this is a misinterpretation of terminology.
The Rocky Mountain elk isn’t related to moose and we can find it in the Rocky Mountains; they also range in some parts of western North America. There are a few elk subspecies, and the Rocky Mountain elk has the largest antlers by far.
Their antlers can be over four feet wide and they use them to fight amongst males to establish dominance and mating rights.
7. Roosevelt Elk
Scientific name: Cervus canadensis roosevelti
Even though the Rocky Mountain elk is far larger when it comes to antler size, the Roosevelt elk is much heavier, with males weighing up to 1200 pounds. They inhabit the Pacific Northwest, reaching the West Coast, Alaska, British Columbia, and Raspberry Islands.
They can be as tall as 10 feet long, but they’re no taller than 5.6 feet. Their antlers rarely reach four feet in width and they’re incomparable to our previous entry.
8. Manitoban Elk
Scientific name: Cervus canadensis manitobensis
We can find this subspecies of elk in the Midwest, the south of the Canadian Prairies – specifically Manitoba. Males can weigh as much as 1000 pounds, with females rarely weighing more than 600 pounds.
Just like the Roosevelt elk, their antlers are rarely wider than four feet and they mostly use them to fight between males, establishing dominance.
9. Porcupine Caribou
Scientific name: Rangifer tarandus granti
Also known as Grant’s Caribou – this species of reindeer can be found in Alaska, Yukon, and the Northwest Territories of Canada. They’re an absolutely massive species of animals with antlers, using them to establish dominance.
Their antlers can be as wide as four feet, but they grow to make an odd arch, so measuring them isn’t that easy. Because of the very small area they’re inhabiting, these animals are under wildlife protection.
10. Red Deer
Scientific name: Cervus elaphus
Red deer are likely the most common deer species in Europe, but they also spread to North Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and parts of South America. Males can weigh up to 550 pounds, and this makes them the fourth-largest deer species.
Their antlers are no longer than 28 inches, while they can weigh up to 2 pounds. With this species, only the males grow antlers, with the most extreme individuals having antlers up to 45 inches long and weighing over 5 pounds.
The growth of antlers is driven by testosterone, which is why the more dominant males have more developed antlers.
Animals with antlers make up some of the largest species in their natural habitat, with the mountain reindeer and the moose being prime examples of that. Antlers can reach massive sizes, and they usually have a dual purpose.
The primary purpose of the antlers is to display the male’s prominence and dominance in the herd, as the male with the most well-developed antlers is the most dominant.
This gives the male the right to mate. However, deer also use antlers to fight off predators, even though they prefer running to fighting. Either way, these majestic tools are essential to the survival of deer.