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Teacher's Guide: Antler Velvet

It’s Wildlife Writing Wednesday, and we’ve compiled some additional information for you as the instructor in case:

  • you want to offer any introductory discussion for your students before releasing the prompt to them

  • it is helpful for you in your evaluation/understanding

  • this understanding helps you to alter the prompt for grade level


You can see the velvet hanging off this Fallow's antlers. He has already begun to lose his velvet. Knowing the antlers' velvet is comprised of blood vessels, what role do you think it plays in the antlers' growth? (Consider the blood, oxygen and nutrients required for antlers to grow and the fact that the blood-vessel-packed velvet deliver those directly for growth.)

Male members of deer species are equipped with antlers. These are antlers are shed on an annual (yearly) basis.

This is different from animals with horns, which are never shed. Animals with horns keep those horns for life. If and when a horned animals breaks the horn, it will not grow back. However, depending on the location of the break or damage, it may have the ability to continue growing from its base.

Antlers are grown, covered in what is called “velvet.” This is a velvet-like material directly connected and impacted by blood vessels that dries and dies when the antlers are fully grown. Then, the buck will use trees or other matter to rub the velvet off of its antlers.

You can see the "fuzzy" velvet material on antlers in photo below.


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