The world’s smallest deer: the pudú

Pudu mephistophiles or Northern pudú

  • It is the smallest deer (family Cervidae) in the world. It does not exceed 35 cm in height and 70 cm in length, and weighs between 3.3-6 kg.

  • It lives in the high and cold steppes of the Colombian, Ecuadorian and Peruvian Andes.

  • Its trunk is brown, the neck is yellow and the head is blackish. Only the males have small horns that barely emerge.

  • Due to the great fragmentation of the habitat among other things it is difficult to find them, so there are no updated demographic data, but the latest ones indicate that this species is in danger.

Pudu mephistophiles. WCS Ecuador

Pudu puda or Southern pudú

  • It’s the second smallest deer. It is 35-45 cm high from the withers and it usually weighs between 6.5-13.5 kg.

  • It is endemic of Chilean and Argentinean Andes.

  • It has a brown coat; only the males have small horns, as in the other species.

  • Life expectancy: 10 years in the wild and up to 17 years in captivity.

  • They live in the thick undergrowth and feed on trees and bushes.

Pudu puda. Yanira Venegas Caro

Both species are threatened by common causes:

  • Habitat loss and fragmentation due to abusive logging.

  • Indiscriminate hunting, mainly for food or sport, although sometimes they are captured to keep as pets.

  • In the case of the Southern pudú, there is also competition with the species – wild and domestic – that have been introduced and the consequent possible transmission of diseases.


Mephistophiles refers to Mephisto, the famous devil from Goethe’s novel Faust.

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