The Irish Red Deer is Ireland’s largest native land mammal and they have been in the country since the last ice age some 10,000 years ago. Here in Kerry the red deer can be seen within the Killarney National Park on the slopes of Torc and Mangerton and some of the surrounding hillsides. On the lowlands the deer are often found grazing in the pasturelands of the Knockreer area of the park and the surrounding woodlands. Red deer have no natural predator in Ireland as we no longer have any wolves. Grasses, heather, mosses, lichens, berries are the mainstay of their diet but they will also happily browse on trees in the spring and early summer. In the early 1970s numbers were estimated at 70-100 but careful management and a total ban on shooting has resulted in a herd number of approximately 600 in the Killarney Valley to-day. A fully grown red stag can weigh up to 250 kgs and hinds up to 180 kgs. In the uplands red deer can live up to 10 years but in the lowlands they can survive up to 18 years.In Killarney National Park there was a hind up to 20 years of age in the Muckross peninsula area.The males are called stags and the females hinds and their offspring calves. During the summer months the coat is a deep chestnut-red colour but in the winter the coat is a much duller brownish colour.
.The Stags Antlers are unique in that they can contain 6 to 12 points.The red stags cast their antlers each Spring and commence growing a new set straightaway. The new growth is covered in a furry coating which is called “velvet” and when the antlers are fully grown this peels off. The stag begins to grow their antlers in the second year and are fully grown by September. Quite amazing when you see the size of their antlers