Classification and Range
The southern pudu (POO-doo) belongs to the family Cervidae, which includes 43 species of deer in 16 genera. Pudu belong to the genus Pudu. There are two species of pudu: the southern pudu (Pudu puda), the species of pudu on exhibit at Woodland Park Zoo, which range throughout the lower Andes of Chile and southwest Argentina; and the northern pudu (Pudu mephistophiles) which range through the lower Andes of Ecuador, northern Peru and Columbia.
The pudu inhabits temperate rain forests in South Americ in dense underbrush and bamboo. Southern Chile, southwest Argentina, Chiloé Island, and northwest South America are home to the deer. The southern pudu species is found in the slope of the Southern Andes from sea level to 2,000 meters (6,600 ft). The climate of the pudu's habitat is composed of two main seasons: a damp, moderate winter and an arid summer. Annual precipitation in these areas of Argentina and Chile ranges from 2 to 4 meters (6.6 to 13 ft).
14-18 inches (36-46 cm) high at the shoulder.
14-30 pounds (6.4-13.6 kg)
Life span in the wild is estimated at 12-14 years; southern pudu live in zoos about 15 years.
In the wild: Herbaceous vegetation including bamboo, leaves, bark, twigs, buds, blossoms, fruit and berries. At the zoo: Alfalfa, leafeater biscuits, herbivore pellets, some fruits and vegetables and browse.
Females (does) become sexually mature as early as 1 year. Although males (bucks) reach sexual maturity shortly after females, they often don't breed until 18-24 months of age when they become large and seasoned enough to successfully compete for females with other mature male pudus. Southern pudu mate in the fall and give birth in the spring (November-January in the southern hemisphere). Gestation is approximately seven months. Females usually bear a single fawn weighing about 29 ounces (822 g).
A fawn usually remains hidden for a number of days after birth, only emerging to suckle when the mother visits. After a few weeks, the fawn joins its mother in her normal range. Young stay with their mother for eight to 12 months. Male pudu do not contribute to the rearing of young. Young southern pudu lose their white spots after about 3 to 5 months of age. At 8 months, males begin growing their first spike antlers which eventually reach 2-4 inches (5-10 cm) in length when they are 7 years old.
Southern Pudu - World's Second Smallest Deer!
The southern pudu, also called by the Chilean venadito, is the second smallest deer in the world. The northern pudu is the smallest deer. With its very short legs and small, low-slung body, the southern pudu can easily move through dense vegetation and among rocks to escape predators. Predators include puma, fox and domestic dogs. When pursued, southern pudu run in a zigzag pattern and will climb trunks of trees that are leaning over streams or bluffs to escape their pursuer.
Using Smell to Stay in Touch
In the wild, southern pudu are primarily normally active at twilight and during the night. The live in dense underbrush and bamboo thickets. Pudus tend to live alone or in pairs. These deer are almost never found in groups of more than three animals. Scent marking is an important mode of communication. More common among males than females, scent marking is accomplished by secretions from the preorbital and frontal scent glands, as well as by urination and defecation in specific sites. Scent glands are sacs that open on the skin surface and discharge a strong-smelling secretion. Nearly all deer species posses these scent glands. One theory explaining why deer possess these glands is that the scent, when spread on trees or leaves, enables other deer to recognize their presence and marks their territory.
Location at the Zoo
Woodland Park Zoo's southern pudu are located near the red pandas and cranes in the Temperate Forest. Relatively little is known about pudu in the wild. By studying them at Woodland Park Zoo, we may answer questions about these deer and contribute to their survival in the wild.
The southern pudu is an endangered species. Their future in the wild remains uncertain. As their natural habitat is diminished due to overpopulation, clearing of land for agriculture, logging, hunting and other human activities. Relatively little is known about pudu in the wild. By studying them at Woodland Park Zoo, we may answer questions about these deer and contribute to their survival in the wild.
How You Can Help!
The effort to save threatened and endangered species requires cooperation and support at the international, national, regional and individual levels. You can help in this cause. Join and become active in Woodland Park zoo and other conservation organizations of your choice. Please do not buy products made from wild animal parts. Contact your elected representatives and express your views about conservation of endangered species and wild habitats.
To find out way you can support conservation programs at the zoo, visit our Conservation and Donate sections, or contact Woodland Park Zoo at firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn other ways you can help conserve wildlife and the habitats they require for survival by visiting our How You Can Help page.
Sources and Suggested Reading
Macdonald, David, ed. 1993. The Encyclopedia of Mammals. Facts on File, Inc., New York, NY. 895 p.
Redform, Kent H. and Eisenberg, John F. 1992. Mammals of the Neotropics: The Southern Cone. Volume 2. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London. 430 p.
Whitehead, G. Kenneth. 1993. The Whitehead Encyclopedia of Deer. Voyager Press, Stillwater, MN. 597 p.