Pampas Deer

Pampas Deer

Venado, Gama, Veado-Campeiro

Ozotoceros bezoarticus
Population size
20-40 Thou
Life Span
12-20 years
kg lbs 
cm inch 

The Pampas deer (Ozotoceros bezoarticus ) is a species of deer that live in the grasslands of South America at low elevations. They are known as veado-campeiro in Portuguese and as venado or gama in Spanish.

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Their habitat includes water and hills, often with winter drought, and grass that is high enough to cover a standing deer. Many of them live on the Pantanal wetlands, where there are ongoing conservation efforts, and other areas of annual flooding cycles. Human activity has changed much of the original landscape.

They are known to live up to 12 years in the wild, longer if captive, but are threatened due to over-hunting and habitat loss. Many people are concerned over this loss, because a healthy deer population means a healthy grassland, and a healthy grassland is home to many species, some also threatened. Many North American birds migrate south to these areas, and if the Pampas deer habitat is lost, they are afraid these bird species will also decline. There are approximately 80,000 Pampas deer total, with the majority of them living in Brazil.

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Pampas deer belong to the New World deer family; it is another term for all South American deer species. Pampas deer have tan fur, lighter on their undersides and insides of legs. Their coats do not change with the seasons. They have white spots above their lips and white patches on their throats. Their tails are short and bushy, and when they run, they lift their tail to reveal a white patch. Males have small, lightweight antlers that are 3-pronged; they shed them in August or September, with a newly grown set by December. Females have hair whorls that look like tiny antlers stubs.




Pampas deer are found in South America. They occur in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. Their habitat includes water and hills, often with winter drought, and grass that is high enough to cover a standing deer. Many of them live on the Pantanal wetlands and other areas of annual flooding cycles.

Pampas Deer habitat map

Climate zones

Pampas Deer habitat map
Pampas Deer
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Habits and Lifestyle

Pampas deer are social animals that live in groups. These groups are not separated by gender, and bucks (males) will drift between groups. There are usually only 2-6 deer in a group, but there can be many more in good feeding areas. They do not have monogamous pairs, nor are there harems. Pampas deer do not defend territory or mates but do have displays of dominance. They show dominance by keeping their heads up and trying to keep their side forward, and use slow, deliberate movements. When bucks are challenging each other, they rub their horns into vegetation and scrape them on the ground. They rub the scent glands on their heads and faces into plants and objects. They usually do not fight, but just spar with each other, and they do commonly bite. When they feel danger, they hide low in the foliage and hold, and then bound off about 100-200 meters. If they are alone, they may just quietly slip away. Females with a fawn will fake a limp to distract a predator. Pampas deer usually feed during the day, but sometimes have nocturnal activity. They are very curious and like to explore. They often stand on their hind legs to reach food or see over something. They are sedentary and don't have seasonal or even daily movements.

Group name
Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

Pampas deer are herbivorous animals. They eat new green growth, shrubs, and herbs. Thye prefer forbs, shoots, leaves, and twigs. During the rainy season, their diet will also include new grasses.

Mating Habits

varies with location
7 months
1 fawn
1 year
doe, hind
buck, stag

Little is known about the mating system in Pampas deer. In Argentina, they breed from December to February. In Uruguay, the mating season is February to April. Pampas deer have interesting courtship behavior that includes low stretching, crouching, and turning away. The male initiates courtship with a low stretch and makes a soft buzzing sound. He nuzzles the female and may flick his tongue at her, and averts his eyes. He stays near her and may follow her for a long time, smelling her urine. Sometimes the female responds to courtship by lying on the ground. Females separate themselves from the group to give birth and keep the fawn hidden away. Usually, only one fawn weighing about 2.2 kg is born after a gestation period lasting over 7 months. Newborn fawns are small and spotted, and lose their spots at about 2 months old. At 6 weeks, they can eat solid food and begin to follow their mother. Fawns stay with their mothers for at least a year and also reach reproductive maturity at about a year of age.


Population threats

Pampas deer are threatened due to over-hunting and poaching, habitat loss due to agriculture, diseases from domesticated and feral livestock, competition from more recently introduced wildlife, and general over-exploitation. There is less than 1% of their natural habitat left. Pampas deer have been harvested into the millions. Between 1860 and 1870, documents for the port of Buenos Aires alone show that two million Pampas deer pelts were sent to Europe. Many years later, as roads were built through the pampas, cars made it even easier for poachers to get to the deer. They were also killed for food, medicinal purposes, and for sport. The settlers brought large agricultural expansion, uncontrolled hunting, and new diseases to Pampas deer with the introduction of new domestic and feral animals. Some landowners have set aside some of their property as a reserve for the deer, as well as keeping cattle instead of sheep. Sheep graze much more on the land and are more of a threat to the deer.

Population number

According to the IUCN Red List, the total population size of Pampas deer is around 20,000-80,000 individuals. The largest population lives in Brazil, with around 2,000 individuals in the northeast cerrado ecosystem, and 20,000-40,000 individuals in the Pantanal. There are also estimated populations of the species in the following areas: in Paraná State, Brazil - less than 100 individuals; in El Tapado (Salto Department), Uruguay - 800 individuals, and Los Ajos (Rocha Department), Uruguay - 300 individuals; Corrientes (Ituzaingo Department), Argentina - 170 individuals, in San Luís Province, Argentina - 800-1000 individuals, in Bahía de Samborombóm (Buenos Aires Province), Argentina - 200 individuals, in Santa Fé “Bajos Submeridionales”, Argentina - less than 50 individuals. Currently, Pampas deer are classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List and their numbers today are decreasing.


1. Pampas Deer on Wikipedia -
2. Pampas Deer on The IUCN Red List site -

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