Kids Educational Adventures
Horns & Antlers


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 GifraffeA giraffe has short, fuzzy horns that remain with him throughout his life. elkAn elk has antlers that can grow up to two-feet, shedding them and growing new ones each year.

What is the difference between horns and antlers?

Horns

Antlers

  • Animal horns come in all shapes and sizes.
  • They have a core made of bone, with a cover made of keratin (same material human hair or fingernails is comprised).Animals use their horns to defend against predators (great way to protect the family). If an animal’s horn is broken or damaged, it will remain that way forever. It does not grow back.
  • Horns are permanent; they are not shed, but grow with the animal throughout its lifespan.

 

The animals living at Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch that have horns:

  • Giraffe
  • Rhinoceros
  • American Bison or Buffalo
  • Watusi
  • Longhorns
  • Kudu
  • Springbok

 

Fun facts about horns:

  • Rhinoceros’ are the only mammal with a horn on its nose, which continuously grows throughout their lifespan.
  • Rhinoceros’ horns are missing the bony core, but like other horns, consist of strictly stainds of matted keratin.
  • Giraffes’ horns, or ossicones, have a bony core, but do not have a keratin sheath. Instead of the keratin sheath, the ossicones are covered by a thin layer of hair.
  • Animal antlers come in all shapes and sizes and have branches and points.
  • Like horns, they are also used for protection.
  • Unlike horns, only male deer species at the Wildlife Ranch grow antlers, for which they shed and grow back each year. Antlers are not permanent.
  • Antlers begin growing as cartilage, covered by hairy skin referred to as velvet. Coinciding with rut or breeding season, the hormone change in male species will cause the cartilage in the antlers to turn into bone. This process is called ossification. Once antlers have turned to bone, the velvet will dry and fall off the antlers. Months later, the animal will shed their antlers. Animals will only be without their antlers for a few weeks before the process starts again.

 

The animals living at Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch that have antlers: 

  • Elk
  • Basasingha
  • Axis
  • Japanese Sika
  • Fallow
  • Formosan Sika

 

Fun facts about antlers:

  • A deer’s age cannot be determined by the size or number of points it carries on its antlers.
  • Caribou are the only animal species with antlers where both the male and female have antlers.

 arrow-red Click to see comparison images of Horn and Antler growth

Horned Animals
Photo Gallery

Antlered Animals
Photo Gallery

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Gemsbock

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Kudu

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Scimitar

sika

Sika

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Fallow Deer showing falling Velvet

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Fallow Deer showing fully grown antlers

JOKES

 

How did the rhino get across the busy intersection?
A: He honked his horn.

What do you call a deer with no eyes?
A: No idea! (No eyed-deer!)

Why do male deer need braces?
A: Because they have "buck teeth!"

What's red and white and gives presents to gazelles?
A: Santelope!

 

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