Deer teeth

Judging a deers age by its teeth

There are six species of wild deer in the UK and many students currently studying game and wildlife management or countryside management at Reaseheath College will be involved with the management of these deer in their future careers.

They may be required to accurately age a deer to ensure that they are conforming to the appropriate management or cull plan.

Deer teeth

This is part of the collection of lower jaw bones from, mostly from Chinese water deer (Hydropotes inermis) but the second from the top is from a year old roe (Capreolus capreolus) doe and the bottom fragment is from a muntjac (Muntiacus reevesi) buck. The way to estimate the age of a deer is to look at the eruption of the teeth, discounting the incisors at the front of the jaw, most of which are missing in these photos, each lower jaw in an adult deer should have six teeth.

The rule is simple; if all the molars (the three rearmost teeth) are not erupted and the third premolar (the third tooth from the front) has three cusps the deer is juvenile.

A three cusped juvenile pre-molar

A three cusped juvenile pre-molar

A partially erupted molar, is this deer an adult?

A partially erupted molar, is this deer an adult?

As a guide roe deer should have all their adult teeth, i.e six teeth on each side of the lower jaw and a two cusped pre-molar by 13 months of age, Chinese water deer and muntjac mature slightly faster and should have all these teeth shortly before they are 12 months of age.

A full set of adult teeth, notice the third premolar only has two cusps and all molars are fully erupted.

A full set of adult teeth, notice the third premolar only has two cusps and all molars are fully erupted.

Trying to judge the age of adult teeth is harder, the wear and tear on the teeth gives an indication of age but this depends on a deers diet and local conditions.

Lightly worn teeth, notice the molar to the extreme right is not fully erupted (this is a juvenile deer).

Lightly worn teeth, notice the molar to the extreme right is not fully erupted (this is a juvenile deer).

Heavy wear on a full set of adult teeth. notice how the cusps of the teeth are almost completely worn away, this indicates that this deer was much more mature.

Heavy wear on a full set of adult teeth. Notice how the cusps of the teeth are almost completely worn away, this indicates that this deer was much more mature.

 

© Geoffrey Guy 2013 originally published at http://bushcrafteducation.blogspot.co.uk/