The Northern Pudu (Pudu mephistophiles) is the world’s smallest deer. This little inhabitant of the Andes Mountains weighs in at only 3 to 6 kg, or 7 to 13 pounds. The Northern Pudu lives and plays across Columbia, Ecuador, and Peru. They prefer to stay in the higher elevations of the Andes Mountain range. Most of them live at least 2000 meters above sea level. The climate here is a temperate rainforest, with a wet winter and arid summer.
What Do They Look Like?
These little deer have a stocky body and slim legs. They average 32 – 35 cm, or 13 – 14 inches tall. They are approximately 85 cm or 33 inches long. They are slightly larger than a small house dog or a large cat. They have a Southern branch of the family that lives in Chili and Argentina. This species is slightly larger. Their fur is thick, stiff and lays close to the body. They range in color from a reddish brown to a darker brown. The males sport backward curving antlers that do not split.
How Do They Survive?
The Pudu is a solitary animal interacting socially only to mate. They are nocturnal by nature and thrive on leaves, shrubs, sprouts, blossoms and bark. They do not eat meat. They are adept at climbing, jumping and sprinting which helps them evade predators. They tend to move slowly and purposefully through the lush climate, utilizing dense vegetation to hide. Predators include owls, foxes, and large wild cats.
How Many Young Do They Have?
Mating season is short, lasting from April to May each year. Once done they return to their solitary existence. The female Pudu carries her young six to seven months. Most mothers have only one baby, but twins do occur with some regularity. Pudu young will stay with their Mommas for between 8 – 12 months before heading out on their own. Most of them have an average lifespan of 8 – 10 years.
Why Are They Endangered?
The Pudu is listed as vulnerable on the ICUN red list. The main causes of death are disease, loss of habitat, and over hunting. The Pudu is prone to become infected with various types of worms such as the round worm and heart worms. The worms multiply rapidly overcoming their small bodies. Loss of habitat has lead to a decline in mating and death from road accidents. Adding to the problem are hunters. The Pudu is eagerly sought due to the skill needed to track and kill them. Conservationist are working to restore and preserve the habitat for these precious little deer.