White-Tailed Deer

White-Tailed Deer

Odocoileus virginianus

Conservation status:

Least Concern

Origin:

United States, Canada, Mexico, Central America, and South America as far south as Peru and Bolivia

(They also have been introduced to New Zealand, Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, The Bahamas, The Lesser Antilles, and some countries in Europe, such as Finland, the Czech Republic, Romania and Serbia)

Size:

Males, known as bucks, average at about 150 lbs and females, known as does, average at about 100lbs.

Lifespan:

In the wild, they average at 4.5 years. In captivity, they can live up to 14 years.

Diet:

They are herbivores. They forage for plants, including shoots, leaves, cacti, prairie forbs, and grasses.

They will also eat acorns, fruit, and corn. Their stomachs allow them to eat things that are harmful for humans to consume, for example mushrooms and poison ivy. An adult deer can eat around 2,000lbs of plant matter annually.White-tailed deer is known as a ruminant, which means it has a four-chambered stomach. Each chamber has a specific job that allows the deer to eat a variety of different foods. This allows for digestion to occur at a later time, in a safe place.

Activity:

Nocturnal or crepuscular

Reproduction:

Breeding season, also referred to as rutting season, takes place normally in late October or early November. The males, bucks, compete for breeding rights. Average age of sexual maturity is 18 months. Females give birth to one to three young, known as fawns, in May or June. Fawn are born with spots. They lose their spots during the first summer and weigh from 44 to 77 lbs by their first winter. For their first four weeks of life, fawns stay hidden in tall grasses. Their mothers return to nurse them four to five times a day. They are usually weaned by 8-10 weeks.

Extra Facts:

White-tailed deer have many scent glands. They have four major scent glands known as the preorbital, forehead, tarsal, and metatarsal glands. They communicate through sound, scents, body language, and marking.

Fawns produce a high-pitched squeal to call out for their mothers. This is known as a bleat. Does make maternal grunts when searching for their fawns. Bucks and does make several noises to communicate.

About 1 in 10,000 females will grow antlers.

Males regrow their antlers every year. The number of points, the length, or thickness is a general indication of age but cannot be relied on. Their snout length or coat color is a better indicator.

Though they are entirely herbivorous, white-tailed deer have been witnessed to opportunistically feed on nesting songbirds and field mice.

They have many predators, such as wolves, cougars, alligators, etc. Coyote, bobcats, lynx, wolverines, and bears tend to prey on the fawns.

Deer are the primary host and vector for the adult black-legged tick, which transmits the Lyme disease Bacterium to humans.