Red deer topless! - German Wildlife Foundation

Red deer topless! - German Wildlife Foundation

German Wildlife Foundation: In February, the top dog also loses its antlers

If you find the antlers of a red deer - the hunter speaks of a dropping stick - while walking in the forest, you don't have to worry about the animal's health: Deer now lose their antlers in February. This is a completely natural process.

The reason for the shedding of the antlers is the low level of the sex hormone testosterone in red deer in February. The month of February used to be called Hornung. "The antlers of a red deer are by no means made of horn, but of bone substance," explains Dr. Andreas Kinser, forestry and hunting expert at the German Wildlife Foundation.

Scientists today know the process of shedding antlers, but why nature expects such a physical effort from the animal is unclear. One thing is certain: the animal develops completely new antlers within about 140 days. "During antler growth, a lot of calcium is removed from the body for bone formation," says Dr. Kinser. "Because a single antler can weigh up to seven kilograms."

Bone-eating cells, so-called osteoclasts, destroy the bone substance between the antlers and the bony frontal cones, the so-called rose bushes, on the animal's head as a result of the falling hormone level. As a result, the antlers come loose - and even the proudest of all top dogs suddenly stands there "topless" in February.

In nature everything is used - even the shed antlers. They are popular with rodents such as mice because of their high calcium and phosphorus content. However, visitors to the forest are not allowed to collect and take away throwing poles. "Anyone who is unauthorized and takes throwing rods with them is guilty of poaching," says Kinser.

Eva Goris
press secretary
German Wildlife Foundation
Billbrook dike 216
22113 Hamburg

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