Animal Corner — Antlers Facts

Curious about why animals like deer, elk, and caribou have antlers? Antlers mainly come on males, although in rare cases some females do have them. They are made of bone, and thus are filled with blood. They serve a few functions, from a form of defending themselves against predators to a way of knocking food from trees. They also allow these animals to dig spaces into the ground for them to rest.

Probably the primary function of antlers, however, is dominance. When deer, elk, or caribou find food, they use what is on their head to keep other animals away from eating what is theirs. When breeding season comes, males use them to keep other males away from females. Females are also more drawn to males with big antlers, making the set a very important factor during mating season!

Once mating season concludes, males shed their antlers. About a couple of weeks later, a new set starts growing, and the cycle begins anew. The set is not necessarily the same each year. In fact, their form may change slightly from year to year. This may be due to health. Since they are heavy, sometimes weighing as much as twenty pounds, only the healthiest animals can have them. If the set grows smaller, then the animal may not be as healthy as it was the year before.

Want to see animals with antlers up close? We have several deer in our drive-thru with them, and we invite you and your family to come check them out!