Assateague Island National Seashore
Assateague Island information guide
Sika deer

You may get surprised at Assateague Island when you encounter the Sika deer during your vacation. Introduced on Assateague Island during the mid 1920's, Sika can been seen in the loblolly pine forest, sand dune areas and marshes along Assateague. They are inhabitants of Japan and live naturally throughout eastern Asia, including parts of Korea, Siberia, China, Vietnam, Taiwan. Although smaller than whitetail deer, these animals exhibit elk-like behavior. Often called "Asian elk", they sometimes offer visitors a chance to witness exciting physical challenges between males during the sika's mating season. Sika eat the leaves of myrtle bushes, grasses, persimmons, shrubs, and other plants on Assateague Island. They even eat poison ivy.

Sika are highly vocal and at least ten different sounds have been recorded. There are several subspecies and their fur can range in color from chestnut-brown with reddish hair on top of the head to a dark brown or black They have white spots on their backs which appear more visible during different seasons. Scientists are still trying to figure out how many subspecies exist, but currently recognize six to 14 kinds of sika. About Six subspecies are nearly extinct in certain areas of Asia. Sika deer have been transplanted to several countries and have been known to mate with red deer, therefore producing hybrids which are larger than Sika. They have been introduced in New Zealand, Europe, Australia, and several US states, including Maryland, Virginia, Texas, Oklahoma and Wisconsin.

Assateague Island Homepage
Sika Deer
(Cervus nippon)

Birdwatching, Fishing and Ponies along Assateague