Southern puduScientific Name Pudu puda

Conservation Status Near threatened

Appearance

The coat of the southern pudu varies from reddish to dark brown. The underside and legs are slightly lighter in colour. The insides of their ears are orange.

Males grow a pair of short and spiked antlers which they shed each July. These measure 7-10cm (2.8-4in) long. The nose and eyes are black.

Males are slightly larger than females. On average a southern pudu stands 34-36cm (14-18in) high at the shoulder and measures 85cm (33.5in) from the head to the base of the tail. The tail adds another 8cm (3.2in) to their length. Their average weight is between 9 and 15kg (20 and 33lb).

Lifespan

In the wild a southern pudu can be expected to live for between 12 and 14 years. In captivity, some of the oldest animals have lived for up to 17 years.

Diet

Southern pudus are herbivores. They feed upon clover, cereals, vegetables, nuts, tree foliage, ferns, vines, shrubs, seeds, twigs, berries, fruit and buds. To reach their food they can stand on the back legs and fallen logs. They can also flatten saplings and bamboo by standing on them.

They do not require drinking water often. Instead they can obtain their water needs from the plants they eat.

Habitat

South America is the native home of the southern pudu. Here they can be found throughout Chile and Argentina.

Their habitat consists mostly of secondary forests. Evergreen and deciduous forests are also inhabited by the southern pudu. This habitat features a dense underbrush and bamboo. In these areas, they tend to prefer the understory where trees are small and there is low-lying vegetation.

Reproduction

Mating takes place from April to May during a season known as the rut. This is the only time wild pudus come together. Males will approach a female and proceed to lick and sniff her to determine her receptiveness to mating. If she is receptive they will begin to groom each other. They then spend 3 days together mating.

Gestation can last anywhere from 202 to 223 days with an average length of 210 days. Following this a single fawn or twins may be born. Young are born with 3 stripes of white dots running across the back. These fade as they grow. Weaning takes place at 2 months old. Young Southern puduare fully grown at 3 months old. By 8 months old they move away from their mother to form their own territory.

Sexual maturity occurs at 6 months for females with males maturing later between their 8th and 12th month.

Behaviour

Southern pudus are solitary animals. A single animal will have a territory which they defend against other pudus. To mark this space, they leave dung piles around their eating and resting spots.

Scent is also used to communicate. They can rub their antlers of the preorbital gland to leave scent in the environment.

Threats to the southern pudu include habitat destruction and competition from other introduced deer. In areas where dogs have been introduced they are easily susceptible to disease. They are preyed upon by owls, Andean and Magellan foxes, cougars and other small cats. They are also captured to be kept as pets.

To escape predator’s they will run in zig-zag patterns.

Quick Facts

The southern pudu is the world’s second smallest deer after the northern pudu.

Photo Credits

Top – By poudou99 (own work, photo personnelle de Poudou99) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Bottom – By Jaime E. Jimenez [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0), GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/), via Wikimedia Commons