Sika Deer

The word ‘sika’ means ‘small deer’ in Japanese, and this particular species is regarded as sacred in that country. Elsewhere, however, sika deer populations are under threat.


While most deer are relatively quiet, the sika is an exception, having a distinctive vocabulary of 10 different sounds, including a loud scream. Hinds generally live in small groups headed by a stag. Males are highly territorial and very aggressive by nature, and will use not just their antlers but also their sharp hooves when battling with a rival.

Both animals can end up being seriously injured as the result of such conflicts. Sika deer are nocturnal by nature.


Distribution: Occurs in eastern Asia, from Siberia to China and Korea, and on islands including Taiwan and Japan. Has been introduced to the wild in the USA, Britain and New Zealand.

Weight: 25 – 110 kg (55 – 242 lb).

Length: 115 – 175 cm (45 – 69 in), including tail; up to 110 cm (42 in) tall.

Maturity: 18 months – 2 years.

Gestation Period: About 220 days; weaning occurs 8 – 12 months later.

Number of Offspring: 1, rarely 2.

Diet: Herbivorous, grazing on grass and also browsing on taller plants.

Lifespan: 10 years in the wild; up to 20 in captivity.

Spotted appearance

The spots are only present in certain types, and become less evident in winter.


Colour can differ quite markedly between individuals, ranging from a greyish through to a colouration.


These are only present in males, and can measure up to 81 cm (32 in) long.


The coat becomes thicker in winter, creating a mane around the male’s neck.


Fawns are born in May and June. Sika deers are particularly at risk from attacks by wolves when they are very young.