The underparts of the sika deer are whitish or grey (2), and there is a large, white, heart-shaped patch across the rump and tail (2) (4) (5) (6) which is edged with black. A thin, dark line also runs down the white tail (6).
In its introduced range within the United Kingdom, the sika deer occupies a range of habitats, including mature broadleaf woodland, bogs, saltmarshes and offshore islands (6).
Index of bag density from 1995 to 2009 (see statistical methods and interpretational considerations). Error bars represent 95% confidence intervals.
Sika have a diverse diet, feeding mainly on grasses and dwarf shrubs such as heather, but also items such as mushrooms, lichens, coniferous tree shoots and tree bark. Sika will also make use of food sources such as those offered by neighbouring farms and moorland.
The sika deer is widespread across northern and western mainland Scotland, and in the Scottish Borders. In England, the main concentrations are in Cumbria, Lancashire and Hampshire/Dorset, with many other small scattered colonies. In Ireland, it is found in the north-west, south-east and south-west, although a scarcity of records means that this is not apparent from the map.
The sika deer is native to Japan, China, Taiwan (1) (2) (4) (5) (6) and other adjacent regions of the eastern Asian mainland (5), including south-eastern Siberia (6). Although once found in both the Republic of Korea and the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea (1) (2), the sika deer is known to be regionally extinct in the former, and potentially extinct in the latter. There are several subspecies of sika deer, which all have different distributions (1).
In optimal habitat in the United Kingdom, the sika deer has been found to be capable of expanding its range by three to five kilometres per year (6).
In the 1900s, King Edward VII presented a pair of sika deer to John, the second Baron Montagu of Beaulieu. This pair escaped into Sowley Wood and were the basis of the sika to be found in the New Forest today. They were so prolific, culling had to be introduced in the 1930s to control their numbers.
Change in sika deer bags over time, with 95% confidence limits (see statistical methods):
Sika are active throughout the 24-hour period but are more active during the hours of darkness in populations experiencing frequent disturbance.
The following habitats are found across the Sika deer distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.
Antler developmentMar/Apr: Antlers cast.Aug: Most stags are in hard antler, i.e. antlers are clean of velvet.
Adult males (stags) grow to 70 - 95cm at the shoulder and weigh 40 - 70 kg. Females (hinds) are 50 - 90cm at the shoulder and 30 - 45kg, dependent on subspecies.
Status: UK: Non-native World: Least Concern (IUCN Red List)
Social Dependency: Female calves frequently remain with their mother as yearlings, inheriting her social status and learning her home range during this period. Social groups of a hind, her calf, and yearling are common.
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Lifestyles vary between individuals, with some occurring alone while others are found in single-sex groups. Large herds will gather in autumn and winter. The sika deer is a highly vocal species, with over 10 individual sounds, ranging from soft whistles to loud screams.
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The Sika deer can be found in a number of locations including: Asia, China, Europe, Russia, United Kingdom, Wales. Find out more about these places and what else lives there.
Sika are generally unpredictable and inquisitive in their behaviour towards humans, although they tend to react quickly on the first suspicion of danger by fleeing.
Too few English sites reported sika deer to evaluate trends until 1995. There has been no detectable change in bag index between 1995 and 2009.
Index of bag density from 1984 to 2009 (see statistical methods and interpretational considerations). Error bars represent 95% confidence intervals.
Collisions with vehicles are also considered to be a threat to the sika deer (2), but these also pose a risk to humans (5), and the species is responsible for a number of road traffic accidents each year (6).
Generally sika are crepuscular in their movement patterns, visiting feeding areas at dawn and dusk. Sika commonly graze nocturnally under the cover of darkness. The opportunity for encountering sika significantly increases at first and last light when they are moving to and from feeding areas.
Autumn - a time of great change, of breathtaking migrations, of high drama.
Russia has a relatively large and stable population of 9,000 individuals of the Manchurian subspecies, but this is limited to a small area in Primorsky Krai. Small populations might exist in North Korea, but the political situation makes investigation impossible. The species is extinct in South Korea, with no plans for reintroduction.
There are too few bag records of sika deer to produce an index graph.
Sika were introduced from the Far East into Britain in 1860. While several subspecies, including Chinese, Japanese, Formosan and Manchurian, were introduced into parks the only free-living form in Britain is the Japanese sika. It is possible that almost all (if not all) living English, Scottish and some Irish sika are descendants from only one stag and three hinds introduced to Viscount Powerscourt's deer park at Enniskerry, Eire in 1860.
A single calf is born during early May to late June after a gestation period of 7 ½ months. They can live, exceptionally, up to 18 years.
O'Brien, D.J., Rooney, S.M. and Hayden, T.J. 2009. A differential vulnerability to hunting between the sexes in Sika-type calves. I. Nat. J. 30: 7- 9.
Antlers are branched and similar to red deer but usually with a maximum of eight points. The bay tine is also absent. The angle between the brow tine and the main beam is usually less than 90o.
The sika deer is a herbivorous species (6), feeding on many different plants (2) including grasses, browse and even fruit (1). In the summer, this species’ diet tends to consist primarily of grasses and herbs, whereas in winter months more woody plants are consumed (2). The shoots and bark of coniferous trees may sometimes be taken (3), and the sika deer has been reported to feed on crops in the spring and early summer (2).
Bark stripping damage*: often increases as the sap rises in mature trees. Fraying damage* associated with stags cleaning velvet occurs during August and September. Bole scoring* (gouging with the antlers) of plantation trees can occur throughout the period stags are in hard antler.
The Formosan sika deer (C. n. taioanus) has been extinct for almost two decades before individuals from zoos were introduced to Kenting National Park; the population now numbers 200. Reintroduction programs are also under way in Vietnam, where the Vietnamese sika deer (C. n. pseudaxis) is extinct or nearly so.
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The sika deer is one of the few deer species that does not lose its spots upon reaching maturity. Spot patterns vary with region. The mainland subspecies have larger and more obvious spots, in contrast to the Taiwanese and Japanese subspecies, whose spots are nearly invisible. Many introduced populations are from Japan, so also lack significant spots.
Its name comes from shika (鹿?), the Japanese word for "deer". In Japan the species is known as the nihonjika (ニホンジカ（日本鹿）?, lit. "Japan deer").
Charity registered in England and Wales, 1112023, in Scotland SC038868
Sika are fairly unsocial, tending to be solitary for most of the year and only forming small groups in winter. The sexes are strongly segregated and occupy discrete geographic ranges for most of the year, only coming together to mate.