Ask The Biologist

Chew on This!

Chew on This!

By Bob Humphrey

Sharp-toothed rodents are one reason shed hunting is a late-winter, early spring activity.

QUESTION:I found several shed antlers this winter and noticed one was all chewed up. Why are some chewed and others not? What does that, and why?

ANSWER: The most likely explanation for why some are and some aren’t is that the chewed ones are older – have been on the ground longer. Sometimes it takes rodents awhile to find them, and that’s what’s doing the chewing.

Antlers are composed primarily of calcium, and they make a readily available source once shed. Because most rodents hibernate, there are fewer around when deer shed their antlers, although there are always a few squirrels and porcupines that might stumble upon them. When spring comes, those animals are out and about and will commence to gnawing away.

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