antelope vs deer

Overview: Antelopes vs Deer

Antelopes and Deer are two similar-looking herbivorous animals belonging to the Pecora infraorder. They are even-toed hoofed mammals having ruminant digestion. The name “Pecora” has its origin in Latin which means ‘horned livestock’. Antelopes and deer might look the same at a glance but both of them are very different animals. We endeavour to differentiate these animals based on physical appearance, abilities, habitat, strength, etc. so that we could choose a winner from animal duel.

Family Group:

Though antelopes and deer look alike, they belong to different families. Deer belongs to the family name Cervidae; all the 47 different species of deer are from this family. Antelopes belongs to the Bovidae family which has 135 species including cattle, goats, and other antelopes. However, both deer and antelopes are members of the Artiodactyla order which means even-toed hoofed animals.

Physical Traits:

The most distinguishing trait between antelopes and deer is their horns. Both male antelopes and male deer have their headgear’s which can be straight, twisted, ridged, and curved. But male deer have antlers composed of vascular spongy tissue covered with a skin called velvet. Antlers are deciduous i.e. they shed their antlers in winters every year and it regrows again in spring. Antelopes have horns composed of perennial living bone covered with thick and strong layers of dead horn tissues. Antelope’s horns are permanent; they don’t shed them and can’t grow them again.  Both of them use their horn and antlers to impress females and show dominance over other males.

Geographical Distribution:

Antelopes are intrinsic to Africa, Europe, and Asia; in Africa 71 native species are found while 14 of the native antelope species belong to Asia.  Deer have their existence in all continents except Antarctica and Australia.

Habitat:

Antelopes prefer to live in the region having sufficient availability of grazing land. They are found in plains and savannahs of Africa and Asia while some are also found in dense forests and arid regions. Deer live in varied environments; they are found in plains, grasslands, arid scrublands, mountains, rainforests, wetlands, marshes, swamps, etc.

Amazing Fact for kids:

  • Red deer are the only native species belonging to Africa.
  • All male deer have antlers but the Chinese water deer have tusks.
  • The only female deer which has antlers are reindeer.
  • A white-tailed deer can reach a top speed of about 35 miles per hour. Pronghorn antelope can run with a top speed of 53 miles per hour.
  • The antler of male deer are not permanent; they lose horn once a year.
  • Antelope’s horns are twisted, ridged, and curved shaped whereas deer antlers are branched.
  • Male deer have antlers while don’t have antlers whereas both male and female antelope have horns.
  • The Alaskan moose is the largest deer species; it has a height of about 2.34 m and can weigh around 800 kg.
  • The spiral-horned giant elands are the largest antelope species. 

Antelope Species

There are about 91 antelope species; most of them are native to South Africa. Some of antelope species are discussed below:

Grerenuk

  • Scientific Name: Litocranius Walleri
  • Geographic Distribution: Gerenuk are native to Eastern Africa and along the coast of Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia,
  • Habitat: They mainly inhabit regions that are dry and bushy; however they are also found in varied habitats.
  • Physical Traits: Gerenuk which means “Giraffe-necked”; they are distinctively long necked antelopes. They have small-long narrow heads, large eyes and ears, and long legs. They have short, glossy coat all over the body which has tawny brown pelage. An adult gerenuk has average height of 80-105 cm with body length of about 140-160 cm; their weight ranges between 29-58 kg.   

Thomson’s Gazelle

  • Scientific Name: Eudorcas Thomsonii
  • Geographic Distribution: Thomson’s gazelle are native to Eastern African countries.
  • Habitat: They live in grasslands and savannah regions. They are well adapted to the arid habitat; however, they migrate during the dry seasons.
  • Physical Traits: Thomson’s gazelles  are small sized antelope species; an adult male weighs around 15-35 kg having height of about 55-82 cm and body length between 80-120 cm. Thomson’s gazelles have tan-coloured pelage with white bellies; they have black marking or bands on their face and on ventral sides. Both male and female have horns; however female’s horns are smaller in size. An adult Thomson’s gazelle can run at a speed up to 70km/hr; they are counted among the fastest mammals.

Impala

  • Scientific Name: Aepyceros Melampus
  • Geographic Distribution: Impalas are found in Southern African countries.
  • Habitat: They inhabit grasslands, savannahs, less dense woodlands and prefer to live close to the water bodies.
  • Physical Traits: Impala is medium-sized antelope that look alike to goat and deer. An adult impala has an average height of about 75-95 cm and weighs around 10-75 kg. In this species males only have S-shaped horns; both genders have reddish-brown pelage.

Common Eland

  • Scientific Name: Taurotragus Oryx
  • Geographic Distribution:  They are native to the regions of East and Southern Africa.
  • Habitat: Elands live in semi-arid regions, sparse forests and steppe.
  • Physical Traits: Common Elands are the second-largest species of the antelope family after Giant Elands. They have a heavy body, long legs and large size. Sexual dimorphism is present; an adult male has body weight ranging between 450-1000 kg whereas female’s weight around 300-600 kg. Both male and female have spiral horns; however male’s horn are bigger than size it can grow up to 4 feet. Elands have distinctive hanging dewlap which help them to regulate the body temperature.

The Saiga

  • Scientific Name: Saiga Tatatrica
  • Geographical Distribution: Saigas are native to Aisa and are found in Russia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Mongolia.
  • Habitat: Saigas prefer to live in semi-desert regions and dry-steppes.
  • Physical Traits: Saigas are small sized species of antelope having distinctively large and moveable nose which hang over their mouth. They have average height of about 76 cm and weighs around 38 kg. They have sandy coloured pelage which turns pale to greyish-brown in winters.

Blackbuck

  • Scientific Name: Antilope Cervicapra
  • Geographical Distribution: Blackbucks are only found in regions of India, Nepal, and Pakistan.
  • Habitat: They live variety of habitats such as grasslands, open woodlands, deciduous forests, and semi-desert areas.
    Physical Traits: Blackbucks are medium-sized antelope. Both male and female have distinct pelage; males are rich-brown which appears to be black and that’s where they got their name, whereas females are caramel to brown colored.
  • An adult blackbuck has a height of about 74-84 cm (up to shoulder) with a weight ranging between 20-57 kg. Male blackbucks have pair of horns that are ringed at base and twisted at the upper side while females have no horns.

Deer Species

There are around 43 deer species found all across the globe; few of them are discussed below.

Spotted Deer or Chital

  • Scientific Name: Axis Axis
  • Geographical Distribution: Spotted Deer are native to India and Sri Lanka.
  • Habitat: They prefer to live in open grasslands as it provides least or no cover to their predators.
  • Physical Traits: Spotted are large deer; an adult deer has average height of about 1 m and its weight ranges between 70-79 kg. They are reddish to fawn in coloured pelage with white spots on it. Male have darker colour with black markings on face; also only male spotted deer have antlers.

Swamp Deer or Barasingha

  • Scientific Name: Rucervus Duvaucelli
  • Geographical Distribution: Swamp deer are native to the Indian subcontinent; mainly found in central and northern India.
  • Habitat: Swamp deer got their name due to its habitat; they prefer to live in swamplands, flood plains, and different forest regions that are close to the water bodies.
  • Physical Traits: Swamp deer are large deer species that have an average height ranging between 119-124 cm and weigh around 170-180 kg. They have orange to brown pelage; males have much darker pelage than females. Swamp deer is also known as “barasingha” which means “twelve-tines”; swamp deer have a beautiful horn which is branched into 10-15 tines.

Sambar

  • Scientific Name: Rusa Unicolor
  • Geographical Distribution: Sambar are native to Asian continents; they are found in India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Southern China, and Pakistan.
  • Habitat: Sambars live in a variety of habitats such as tropical rainforests, evergreen forests, and mixed forests; however they prefer to live close to the dense vegetation.
  • Physical Traits: Sambar is large-sized deer with a comparatively long tail. An adult male sambhar has height upto 100 cm and weights between 180-250 kg while females weighs about 160 kg. Male sambars have antlers and mane around their neck whereas females don’t have antlers and mane. They have short and coarse coat having brown to creamy white pelage.

Musk Deer

  • Scientific Name: Moschus Moschiferus
  • Geographical Distribution: Musk deer are found in Russia, Southern China, Eastern Asia and Myanmar.
  • Habitat: They live in forests; mainly in the mountainous regions.
  • Physical Traits: Musk deer have distinctive physical characteristics, they have strong well-muscled hind legs, thin forelimbs, and arched back. Both males and females don’t have antlers, however male musk deer have fine and sharp canines which extends significantly below the lower jaw. Also, they have distinctive locomotion which appears to be like well-coordinated short jumps. They have greyish brown pelage with long coarse brittle hair. Musk deer are shy; they are most active during dawn and twilight. They are solitary or live in group of 2-3 deer mostly mother with their young ones.

American Moose

  • Scientific Name: Alces Americanu$
  • Geographical Distribution: Moose are native to Northern part of America; they are found in
  • Habitat: Moose lives in cold regions mostly in the circumpolar boreal forests. They prefer to live in snow covered regions in winters and moist dense forest in summer.
  • Physical Traits: Moose are native to the North America; they are counted among largest mammals in the American Continent. An adult male moose can attain height up to 2.3 m with average body length of about 2.5 to 3.2 metres and weight around 360-600 kg. Sexual dimorphism is present in Moose, males are quite larger and heavier than females. They have long and thick pelage with colouration raging from light brown to black. They are solitary animals and generally found in pairs. 

Combat: Duel: Who would win?

Both antelope and deer are almost similar kinds of animals. But antelopes are heavier than deer and are more aggressive. They have strong muscles and longhorns which can pierce the skin of deer easily; horns are antelope’s deadliest weapon.

Although deer have antlers in comparison to antelope’s horns, they are quite weak. But deer could be a challenging rival to antelope in a duel. We predict the win is on the antelope’s side; hence, it Antelopes are the winner of the animal duel Antelopes vs Deer.

Comparison Chart: Antelope vs Deer

Comparison HeadsAntelopeDeer
KingdomAnimaliaAnimalia
OrderArtiodactylaArtiodactyla
FamilyBovidaeCervidae
GenusTetracerusOdocoileus
HabitatAfrica, Europe, and AsiaAll Continent except Antarctica and Australia
Species91 species which includes oryx, gazelle, impala, waterbuck, etc.62 species including elk, moose, chital, reindeer, etc.
DietRuminants, herbivoresRuminants, herbivores
HornsPermanentDeciduous
Lifespan10-25 yearsAbout 20 years

Comparison Video: Antelope vs Deer