So, if you had antlers you think you’d do any better? This is a trying time for a male deer. Think of it as deer ED.
First, it’s important you know that no deer were injured in the making of these videos. And there certainly are a lot of videos of deer, elk, and moose shedding their antlers online. It’s a cottage industry.
Shedding antlers doesn’t cause any pain to the group of animals known collectively as the ungulates – deer, elk, moose, etc.
They typically shed their antlers every year, then grow a completely new set.
It takes about two to three weeks for the entire shedding process. It takes an entire summer for the regeneration to complete before the cycle begins again.
Much of this takes place between January and April, depending on the animal’s age, the mating season, and the area of the world in which it lives.
What are antlers? They’re a kind of honeycomb-like, boney tissue. The mounting points on the heads of deer from which the antlers grow are called pedicles. Antlers break off and are shed from these pedicles.
Pedicles appear on a young deer’s forehead during his first year. After that, he’ll develop small shafts. By the third year of his life, the first “branch” will appear.
As the deer grows in age, the antlers lengthen and thicken and often develop additional branches. The antlers are covered in a soft membrane referred to as “velvet.” Think of it as a layer of skin that provides the nutrients needed to build the bone mass. These nutrients include amino acids, minerals, proteins and Growth Factor-1, a protein hormone like insulin.
High levels of testosterone – yes, deer have testosterone too. No word if they suffer from ED – slow antler growth.
The veins and arteries around the velvet constrict and cut off the blood and nutrient supply to the antlers.
The velvet then withers and falls off. To help the process along, the deer rubs his antlers against trees. The whole process is repeated every year for the rest of his life.
Why are the antlers shed anyway? What’s the point? Well, it is ED of a kind – there’s a drop in testosterone following the rut. The fall in testosterone causes a weakening in the tissue and bone at the antler base. (Sound familiar guys?)
So, the antlers simply fall off. This can happen very quickly – within 24 to 48 hours. A buck in peak physical health will shed his antlers later than a weaker buck, and injured deer often shed their antlers early.