Deer (singular and plural) are the ruminant mammals forming the family Cervidae.
The two main groups are the Cervinae, including the muntjac, the fallow deer and the chital, and the Capreolinae, including the reindeer (caribou), the Western roe deer, and the Eurasian elk (moose).
Female reindeer, and male deer of all species (except the Chinese water deer), grow and shed new antlers each year.
The musk deer of Asia and water chevrotain (or mouse deer) of tropical African and Asian forests are not usually regarded as true deer and form their own families: Moschidae and Tragulidae, respectively.Deer appear in art from Palaeolithic cave paintings onwards, and they have played a role in mythology, religion, and literature throughout history, as well as in heraldry.Their economic importance includes the use of their meat as venison, their skins as soft, strong buckskin, and their antlers as handles for knives.Deer hunting has been a popular sport since at least the Middle Ages, and remains an important business today.Deer live in a variety of biomes, ranging from tundra to the tropical rainforest.
While often associated with forests, many deer are ecotone species that live in transitional areas between forests and thickets (for cover) and prairie and savanna (open space).The majority of large deer species inhabit temperate mixed deciduous forest, mountain mixed coniferous forest, tropical seasonal/dry forest, and savanna habitats around the world.Clearing open areas within forests to some extent may actually benefit deer populations by exposing the understory and allowing the types of grasses, weeds, and herbs to grow that deer like to eat.Additionally, access to adjacent croplands may also benefit deer.However, adequate forest or brush cover must still be provided for populations to grow and thrive.Deer are widely distributed, with indigenous representatives in all continents except Antarctica and Australia, though Africa has only one native deer, the Barbary stag, a subspecies of red deer that is confined to the Atlas Mountains in the northwest of the continent.