Phae are rapidly developing, but long lived creatures that can reach up to the age of 50 years old. Phae age quickly for the first five years of their life, age slowly to 40 years, and then rapidly age again for the last 10 years.
They reach sexual and mental maturity at 5 years of age. Phae may not be bred until they are at least 5 years old.
Phae mentally and physically age at a specific rate. Phae ages are compared to human ages on this sheet.
Phae are ruminant animals, similar to cows and goats. They have four stomach chambers for digesting their food. The first two chambers are called the rumen and the reticulum, where ingested plants, fruit, nuts, etc, are mixed with bile to create cuds. Cud is then regurgitated and chewed again before it is swallowed and passed to the omasum, then abomasum, and eventually the small intestine where nutrients are absorbed. This digestive system enables phae to eat their varied diets and still collect the nutrients needed for survival. However, some types of food will be difficult for them to digest, such as meat or vegetation containing high levels of cellulose.
Phae are what we call browsers. They prefer to feed primarily on foliage such as grass, shrubs, berries and fruits. Typically, their diet varies simply by the place they live in. Phae who live in colder climates may find mosses and lichen a larger part of their diet than say berries and wild fruit which are plentiful in warmer places.
Unlike cattle and sheep, Phae have smaller, unspecialized stomachs which come with high nutrition requirements. So rather than gorging all day on lame old grass they prefer more easily digestible foods like young leaves, fresh grasses, soft twigs, fruit, fungi, and lichens. They tend to be a little more picky, eating only what they think tastes good before moving on to find something else. Because of this, they also rarely partake in carnivorous diets. While a phae could eat a little bit of meat if it is what they have available, it would be hard to digest and they would not gain much nourishment, but will experience frequent stomach aches and cramping.
During “Rut”, Phae diets often shift and require higher than normal amounts of calcium. This is to help support antler and horn growth during this special time of the year. Wild beets and acorns often offer this boost in calcium to help antlers and horns grow strong.
As a species of deer, female phae (does) are seasonal cyclers (also called short day breeders), which means they only experience their estrous cycle at a certain time of year, typically through fall and winter. Similarly, male phae (stags) experience heightened levels of testosterone in this time. This time of year is known as rut, and it runs in the seasons of Autumn and Winter in our in-game time. During this time, phae (regardless of sex) will also grow antlers or horns, which helps defend mates as well as win new ones. To read more about reproductive seasonality in deer, check out this nifty scientific article.
Battles can take place between any phae with antlers or fangs. Phae will often challenge one another for the right to a mate no matter their gender. Fights might take place between opposing parties, or between two phae looking to prove themselves to their mate(s).
Some phae may choose to collect a harem, or a group of mates. These relationships may be polyamorous in nature or between a central member who has relationships with each member of the harem.
!! Mating outside of Rut does not occur amongst Phae and only happens during Rut. !!
Baby Phae (fawns) are born in the Spring and Summer. Typically, does only have one fawn each but twins can occur. Twins come with added risks and can sometimes be born with defects. Does who carry twins also run the risk of dying during the birth or sometimes suffering from complications themselves. These complications can be minor but can also come in more severe forms such as infertility or death.
Even more uncommon are triplets! Obviously with more fawns the risks become even higher but they can occur. Triplets are nearly always born with defects and mothers often struggle through the pregnancy.