Red brocket is the largest species of deer around the globe. This animal also has the most extensive range among all species of its family. This mammal exhibits a heavy build and slender legs. Red brocket is so called due to the red overall coloration of its fur, although it has white patches inside the legs, throat, lips, inner parts of the ears as well as the lower part of the tail. Juveniles are distinguished by whitish markings on their bodies. They have antlers, like most deer species. However, the antlers of these animals are merely short spikes, resembling daggers. Red brocket may carry their antlers for more than a year, shedding them at any time of the year.
The natural range of thus species covers parts of South America, stretching from northern Argentina to Colombia and the Guianas. Additionally, Red brockets can be found on Trinidad Island (the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago). Within this territory, Red brockets live along marshes, swamps and streams, typically in areas with dense vegetation. Ideal habitat for these animals is thick, tropical forest with closed canopy. Generally, however, they occur in both moist and arid habitats.
Red brockets are difficult to spot in the wild as a result of the type of their habitat as well as natural shyness and cautiousness, due to which these animals avoid predators. When alarmed by a potential threat, they usually remain motionless. When directly threatened, these mammals flee into dense forest cover. They may also escape predators by swimming to the other side of the river. Red brockets are mainly solitary animals. They can be active during both day and night. The majority of the active hours is spent foraging in dense forest canopy. Individuals occasionally search food at sunrise and sunset, typically in nearby fields. Each Red brocket has its own, small territory with a radius of up to 1 km (0.6 miles). Red brockets exhibit excellent swimming abilities. When travelling within their range, they often have to swim through rivers of up to 300 meters (328 yards) in width. The communication system of these ungulates includes only a single vocalization, which is a piercing cry.
The reproductive system of this species is insufficiently explored. However, females may give birth at any time of the year with localized peak periods. For example, populations in Surinam generally yield offspring between September and April. A single, spotted foal is born after a rather long gestation of 218 - 228 days. The markings on their bodies disappear by 2 - 3 months old. Weaning occurs at about 6 months of age. Maturity is reached quite early, at only 11 months old, when Red brockets are ready to mate.
Although classified as Data Deficient, Red brockets are probable affected by localized threats. There is no information on the status of most Red brocket sub-species, but one of the most prominent threats to this species as whole is hunting for personal consumption across its natural range. The meat of Red brockets is commonly sold in markets of many larger cities of the Amazon Basin. However, these animals are hunted not only for their meat, but also as pests, damaging bean and corn crops. However, they are probably affected by localized threats. For example, those in Paraguay and Venezuela suffer from destruction of their habitat.
The species is suspected to be widespread in some areas, but the IUCN Red List and other sources don’t provide the number of the Red brockets’ total population. Currently, this species is classified as Data Deficient (DD) on the IUCN Red List.
Endemic to the Amazon basin, Red brockets have considerable impact on the ecosystems of this region. Firstly, they act as important seed dispersers, helping many plant species survive. Then, they directly affect the structure of their forest habitat by changing local plant communities. And finally, these ungulates are key prey species for numerous predators of their range such as pumas or jaguars.