All About Animals: STORY 11, “Deer”, by Rob Bullock

If you’re out walking in the countryside and you are very, very quiet – walking on tip toes and not saying a single word – you may just be lucky enough to see a deer. Deer are wonderful animals – they’re vegetarians, and they especially like peace and quiet. The slightest noise is enough to startle them, and then they bound off into the woods or forest, and they are gone.

I don’t often see deer where I live in Yorkshire – not because they aren’t there, but because I have six noisy dogs who walk with me. But the other day, I did see a deer, a red deer, as I walked in the Yorkshire Dales. My dogs were all sniffing around something interesting, and I walked ahead of them up the lane. As I stopped to listen to the birds singing, I looked over the wall into a small wood, and there she was, looking straight at me. I said a quiet “Hello”, but she had seen enough and bounded off through the woods. She was big, the size of a small pony, but not as stocky. But she moved very quickly through the dense undergrowth, springing rather than running.

There are six types of deer in Britain, but only two are what they call native (they are animals not brought to the UK by people). Our native deer are the red deer, like the one I saw in Yorkshire, and the roe deer, who are much smaller animals, generally about the size of a large greyhound dog.

But four other types of deer also live in Britain. These were brought by people to their private parks or zoos from other parts of the world. There are Chinese water deer, fallow, muntjac and sika deer. Sika deer are really interesting to me, because some live wild near where I live. I haven’t seen any yet though. They come from Japan originally, but as with lots of animals, some escaped from captivity, decided they liked Britain and stayed. In East Lancashire, there is a place where a big herd of sika deer live in the wild. Sika deer are even harder to see than red deer – they have very good hearing and disappear at the slightest noise.

When you drive on lots of country roads, you often see a red sign with a deer on it. This is a warning sign. It’s warning drivers that deer could run across the road at any time. A few years ago, I found an injured deer by the side of the road. She was badly hurt but still breathing. She was a very big animal, but I lifted her into the back of my car and took her to my veterinarian. She was so badly injured that she died at the vet’s office, but it was worth a try. She might have lived; she might have been just stunned or slightly injured. It’s always good to stop if you see injured animals, whatever species the animals may be, because they might need your help. I always stop, when it’s safe, to see if I can help an animal.

Many years ago, my wife stopped to help a cat lying by the road side. The cat was barely alive, but my wife took her to the vet’s office. The cat did survive, and we called her Sunny. She lived with us for nearly 15 years. I am sure that she was grateful that my wife stopped that day.

It’s always good to tell your mum or dad to be extra careful whenever you see a warning sign about deer in the area. There might be a deer about to jump out in front of your car.

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