Living Organisms / Animalia / Craniata / Mammalia / Artiodactyla / Cervidae / Cervus / Species
Cervus nippon - Sika deer (Click photographs/illustrations: full picture & further details)
Click Photo for full-page view








Return to top of page

General and References

Alternative Names (Synonyms)

  • Japanese deer
  • Sika
  • Cerf Sika (French)
  • Sikahirsch (German)

Names for new-borns / juveniles

Names for males Stag
Names for females Hind

Return to top of page

General Appearance

Medium-sized deer, with white spots in rows on red-brown to yellow-brown body (summer coat), and black-bordered white rump patch - conspicuous heart-shape when alert. Branched antlers in male (B142, D30).

Similar Species

In Britain:
  • Distinguished from Cervus elaphus - Red deer and Capreolus capreolus - Western Roe deer by presence of spots on body, also by size (intermediate between red and roe).
  • Distinguished from similar sized Dama dama - Fallow deer by rump patch: both white with black dorsal border, but tail of this species (sika deer) shorter and with less distinct central dark stripe.

(B142, D30)

Sexual Dimorphism --

Return to top of page


Species Author

Debra Bourne

Major References

Husbandry references:

(UK Contacts)

(Further Reading)
Click image for full contents list of ELECTRONIC LIBRARY

  • --

Return to top of page

TAXA Group (where information has been collated for an entire group on a modular basis)

Parent Group

  • Deer (Cervidae)

Specific Needs Group referenced in Management Techniques

  • Deer (Cervidae)

Return to top of page

Husbandry Information


Individual Techniques linked in Wildpro

Return to top of page

Appearance / Morphology

Measurement & Weight

Length Head-body length: 3.5-5.1ft/105-155cm (B144)
  • Shoulder height: 2.1-3.6ft/65-110cm (B144)
  • Japanese: Stag 80cm; Formosan: stag 120cm (B158.A8.w4).
Adult weight General 55-242lbs./25-110kg (B144)
Male Japanese: 60kg; Formosan: 130kg (B158.A8.w4).
Female --
New-born weight About 3kg (B142); 3-7kg (B158.A1.w3).
Growth rate --

Return to top of page


  • Antlers 0.9-2.7ft/28-81cm, maximum 8 points on each bar (B144).
  • Males only. Pedicels grow at 6 to 7 months, first antlers (generally simple spike) in second year. Rarely more than eight points (B142)

Skull: Relatively short with short pointed rostrum (B142).



Dentition (Teeth)
  • I 0/3, C1/1, P3/3,M3/3.
  • Deciduous teeth: I1/3, C 1/1, P3/3, M0/0
  • Upper canine pear-shaped.


Eyes --

Return to top of page

Legs and Tracks


Return to top of page


4-8in./10-20cm (B144). 15-20 cm (B142); 15cm (B158.A8.w4)white with variable-thickness central black line (B142).

Return to top of page

Coat / Pelage

Adult Female Summer: short
  • Dorsal and flanks: Chestnut-red brown to yellow-brown. Dark dorsal stripe. White spots, approximately in rows, including row either side of dorsal stripe.
  • Head: dark lines above eyes, contrasting paler area between them (B142)
  • Rump patch: white, heart shaped, black border dorsal and sides, partially divided by tail white with variable black central line.
  • Ventral: Fawn, with inguinal region white.
  • Hocks: white hairs on hock glands

Winter: thicker. 

  • Dark grey-brown to black, spots faint or absent.

(B142, B158.A8.w4)

Variations (If present) Stag in rut and winter: thick dark mane.

(B142, B158.A8.w4)

  • Spring moult: starts May, finished by July.
  • Winter coat: development starts September, finished early November.


New-born / Juvenile
  • Dark chocolate brown to yellow brown, with white spots. Rump patch small, buff. 
  • Moult: 2-3 months, inconspicuous. 
  • Winter coat: develops October-November 


Return to top of page

Neonate (New-born) Characteristics

Hair coat present at birth. On feet and suckling shortly after birth.

Return to top of page

Detailed Anatomy Notes
(Summary information provided for pertinent species-specific data cross-referenced in Wildpro)

  • Reproductive: Udder has four teats (B142).
  • Scent glands:
  • Hocks - distinct white metatarsal glands. 
  • Pre-orbital (lachrymal) glands. 
  • Tail glandular 
  • (B142).

Return to top of page

Life Stages / Natural Diet / Physiology

Reproductive Stages

Breeding Season
  • Rut begins end September/early October (B142); September to October (B158.A1.w3)
Oestrus / Ovulation
  • Seasonally polyoestrous. 
  • Oestrus cycle 21 days.

(B142, B158.A1.w3)

Gestation / Pregnancy
Parturition / Birth
  • Mainly early May to late June, occasionally to October (B142); June (B158.A1.w3)
Neonatal development --
Litter size
Time between Litters / Litters per year
  • One per year (B142).
Lactation / Milk Production
Sexual Maturity
  • 18-24 months (B144).
  • Females: in second year, occasionally in first year (B142).
  • 16 months (B158.A1.w3)
Longevity --

Return to top of page

Natural Diet

  • Grasses, leaves, heather, ivy, holly, acorns, fungi.

(B142, B144)

Return to top of page

Detailed Physiology Notes
(Summary information provided for pertinent species-specific data cross-referenced in Wildpro)

Temperature --
Pulse --
Respiration --
Faeces --
Haematology / Biochemistry --
Chromosomes 2n = 64-68; FNa = 68 (B142)
Other Antlers cast March/April, antlers cleaned (velvet shed) August/September (B158.A1.w3)

Return to top of page


Feeding Behaviour

Opportunistic feeders (B142)

Return to top of page

Parental Behaviour


Return to top of page

Social Behaviour / Territoriality

  • Gregarious, forming small or medium-sized groups
  • Males and females separate for much of the year
  • Hind groups, with matriarch and total 2-8 animals, sometimes forming larger herds (40-50).
  • Juvenile stags wander.
  • Stags in rut gather harem.

(B142, B143 B144)

Inter-specific --

Return to top of page

Sexual Behaviour

Polygynous (B142).

Return to top of page

Predation in Wild

Wolves (B144)

Return to top of page

Activity Patterns

  • Walk and trot.
  • Pronk when alarmed.
  • Able to swim well.


  • Active day and night.
  • Crepuscular activity peaks, particularly if human disturbance.


Return to top of page

Habitat and Range

General Habitat Type

  • Deciduous and mixed woodlands.
  • Dense woodlands, scrubby vegetation. Dense thickets/undergrowth preferred, and reach highest densities if mixture of dense woodland, open fields and plentiful woodland edge.

(B142, B143, B144).

Return to top of page

Nests / Burrows / Shelters


Return to top of page

Distribution and Movement (Migration etc.)

  • Eastern Asia - Taiwan, eastern China, Manchuria, Korea, far-eastern Russia, Vietnam, Japan.(B142, B143)
  • South-eastern Siberia to eastern China, Taiwan and Japan (B51)
Occasional and Accidental --

Europe (Austria, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, France, Germany, Poland, Britain, Ireland), Caucasus, New Zealand, South Africa, USA, Pacific Islands. (B51, B142, B143)

Return to top of page


Intraspecific variation

Superspecies with many subspecies (B143).

Return to top of page

Conservation Status

Wild Population -
  • Endangered (B144)

  • No conservation status in Europe (B143)

  • In Britain: introduced and locally common. Pre-breeding population estimate of about 11,500, including less than 2,500 in England, 9000 in Scotland, 0 in Wales; does not include deer park population of about 1,500. Population estimate considered likely to be inaccurate by no more than 25% in either direction (B221).

General Legislation
CITES listing --
Red-data book listing --
Threats Hybridisation with Cervus elaphus - Red deer may threaten genetic purity of British populations (B221).
Captive Populations  

Return to top of page