True Wild Life | Stag Beetle | A stag beetle is one of more than 1,200 different species of beetle that are natively found in Europe. The stag beetle is the largest species of insect to be found in the United Kingdom, but despite this, the stag beetle is becoming rarer and rarer in much of Britain and is now a protected species in much of it's historic range. The stag beetle is primarily found inhabiting deciduous woodlands and forest across the European continent where there is an abundance of food and plenty of hiding places for this armoured insect. Stag beetle are also becoming a more common sight in parks and gardens that provide artificial replacements of their native habitats.
The stag beetle is Britain's largest and most distinctive insect as some individuals can reach more than 10cm in length. The hard, armoured shell of the stag beetle provides it's body with immense protection and is split into three parts (as with other insects) to give the stag beetle greater agility when moving around. The most distinctive feature of the stag beetle is it's long antler-like pincers which protrude from the head of the stag beetle. The pincers of the male stag beetle are often considerably larger than those of the female are primarily used for holding onto prey. Stag beetles also have wings that are protected by their shell when not being used, allowing the stag beetle to fly away if it feels threatened.
Stag beetles are omnivorous animals, but they eat a predominately vegetarian diet. Decaying wood, leaves, nectar, fruits and flowers are all stable foods in a stag beetle's diet along with smaller insects when other food sources are not as readily available. Despite their protective body armour, stag beetles are preyed up by a wide variety of animals throughout Europe. Bats, birds, rats and other rodents are the main predators of the stag beetle along with cats and dogs, and other larger mammals such as foxes.
Stag beetles usually begin to breed when the warmer summer weather emerges, and once hatched, the stag beetle larvae remain in their infant form from a few months to a few years. The stag beetle larvae feed on rotting wood and change to nectars when they become adults. Once fully developed, adult stag beetles have a short lifespan only getting to a few months older. Today, primarily thanks to habitat loss, the stag beetle is one of the world's threatened species and is therefore protected throughout it's natural range but particularly in the UK where the stag beetle is becoming rarer and rarer.