Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Deer In Velvet

Male deer with antlers in velvet

Now is the time that you can see male deer in NJ showing new antlers.

Each antler grows from an attachment point on the skull called a pedicle. While an antler is growing, it is covered with highly vascular skin called velvet, which supplies oxygen and nutrients to the growing bone. Growth occurs at the tip, and is initially cartilage, which is mineralized to become bone. Once the antler has achieved its full size, the velvet is lost and the antler's bone dies. This dead bone structure is the mature antler.

When summer ends, you can begin to see "deer rubs" which are the abrasions that male deer make by rubbing its forehead and antlers against the base of a tree. These can be found in any area with high deer populations. Deer rubs are used by hunters to find locations for hunting. The deer are rubbing the velvet off their antler growth. This is especially true during rut season because that area between the forehead and antlers contains a large number of apocrine sweat glands, and leave a scent that communicates a challenge to other male deer while also attracting potential mates. The size of the rub usually varies with the size of the deer.

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