Is deer a really pure herbivore?

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This is a strange phenomenon that I observed during a safari in Bandhavgarh. A stag was eating (or chewing) an antler. A behavior that is not expected from a herbivorous animal like spotted deer.

Some reasons that can be thought and my response

  • Was it hungry? Does not look like as monsoon was just over and grass was plentiful.
  • For salt? May be, but not sure.
  • The deer might just be playing? I watched for nearly five minutes and its action didn’t look so.
  • It might be a piece of wood. I clearly watched and it was not so.

Our guide and the driver said that they were seeing such a thing for the first time. Bit surprised as they would have spent most of their life in jungles. They had seen a tiger eating grass but not a deer eating the antler.

I am no expert in these matters. Can anyone throw some light on the strange case of this spotted deer?

8 Responses

  1. Sankara Subramanian C

    I have seen this before many a time. Deer is known to shed its antlers and chew on it as a source of calcium and phosphorus, basically the same ingredients that are there in our bones…thus helping them make their bones stronger…

    Most of the herbivores pull off such interesting stunts to supplement their diet!!

    I hope this helps…

    Just a word of advise, next time, you go to Bandhavgarh, specifically ask for guides who are good bird watchers and know their subject…such guides are forest researchers, basically they assist wildlife agencies and others in their research and study…these guys will provide us (the tourist) with proper information…

  2. Arun

    Some scottish deer are known to kill juvenile birds in their nests on the ground and feed on them. It was an unusual behaviour not known for a long time. It is thought to be a behaviour acquired to make up for shortfall of certain nutrients lacking in local plants.

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