All About Sambar Deer

Sambar Deer make up the largest group of the deer family.

There are seven subspecies of the sambar deer, but they may soon become endangered.

What You Should Know

Because the sambar deer depend on water, they are never located far from a water source. They live among a variety of forest habitats from the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains through Asia to the islands of Sumatra, Borneo, and Taiwan.

Sambar deer did make their way to the United States. It was introduced in Florida in 1908. By 1950, there were 50 sambar deer counted. While the white-tailed deer lives on St. Vincent Island as well, the sambar deer don’t enter their highlands. Instead, they live in the marshes and lowlands. To keep the sambar deer from hurting the native whitetails, hunting permits are issued since 1987 to help keep the population at bay. Three-day hunting permits are offered to 130 people each year. This maintains a population between 70 and 100 deer. These deer don’t herd but live in family groups of four to five animals.

The sambar deer have also been introduced into the populations of New Zealand and Australia.

The sambar deer is elusive. They spend a lot of time being active from dusk throughout the night. These deer eat bamboo shoots, leaves, fruit, and grass. Some species will eat 130 to 180 plant types. Because of their large size, they eat a lot of food each day.

What Sound Do They Make?

Typically, the sambar deer freezes when threatened. It will confront predators with a loud alarm, barking, and stomping. At the same time, its mane becomes erect to look more intimidating.

You can hear some of the sambar deer sounds through these audio clips.

Group Characteristics

The sambar deer mates any time of the year, with the most popular time during the fall. Males watch their territory well and make loud noises to attract females. They will mate with about eight females during this time. Gestation periods tend to be around nine months. Typically, only one deer is born. This baby stays with its mother for two years before venturing out on its own.

In the wild, the sambar deer lives for about 20 years, but have lived for 26 years in captivity.

How Many are There?

According to the IUCN, the sambar deer is listed as Vulnerable. Over the past three decades, the population has decreased by over 50%. The main threat is how the population in Lao PDR, Vietnam and Cambodia uses the animal for antlers and meat. Natural predators include the dhole, Bengal tiger, and the Indian leopard. These populations will decrease if the sambar deer disappears.

Pop Culture

The deer is a common animal in films, especially animation. Everyone knows about Bambi, Open Season and The Yearling. Still, it’s much more difficult to determine when the sambar deer is used as the inspiration in a movie or TV show. According to Disney, there are sambar deer featured in The Jungle Book.

Interesting Facts

The sambar deer will reach 40 to 63 inches tall and up to 1,200 pounds of weight. Females are always smaller than the males. Their body is covered with a dark brown or yellowish-brown coat. The markings and spots are seen on both sides of the body. The males appear darker and end up with manes as they mature. All sambar deer also have long black tails.

Male sambar deer have 40-inch long antlers that divide into three branches. They shed these antlers yearly.

The sambar deer is an excellent swimmer and enjoys the water.