Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus)


Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family:    Cervidae
Size:    Length: 4 to 6.5 feet (1.2 to 1.98 m)    Height: 2.6 to 5.5 feet (0.79 to 1.67 m)
Weight: 94 to 330 pounds (43 to 150 kg)
Diet: Leaves, twigs, grass, acorns, mushrooms, grapes, berries and other fruit
Distribution: North America
Young:  1 to 4 fawns, once per year
Animal Predators:  Bobcats, coyotes, cougars, black bears, golden eagles, pumas and wolves
IUCN Status: No special status
Terms: Young: Fawn     Male: Buck    Female: Doe
Lifespan: 10 years in the wild and up to 25 years in captivity



·        Mule deer can move their ears independently of each other.

·        They are also known as “burro deer” or “jumping deer.”



Mule deer were given their name because of their large ears. They have excellent hearing and their ears move constantly, which makes them alert to danger. Their vision is also extremely acute, and they manage to avoid many predators by becoming aware of them when they are still at a distance. Unlike the closely related white-tailed deer, mule deer do not run as naturally, but make stiff bounding leaps of up to nine-and-a-half yards (8.7 m) at a time, landing on all four feet at once. This enables them to move even more quickly than white-tails, at speeds of up to 45 miles (83 km) per hour.  Both genders have reddish-brown coats in the summer, but their fur turns grey in the winter. Most mule deer have a white tail with a black tip. They have a black facial marking that begin between the eyes and extends towards the forehead, as well as some white marking on the throat area. Males (bucks) are larger than females (does) and they shed their antlers from mid-January to mid-April of each year, and then grow them back in soon after shedding, to a length of four feet with multi-pointed forks. Females have no antlers, so when they need to defend themselves, they use their hooves (as do males when they have no antlers). 



Mule deer range throughout western North America, from northern Mexico up to Canada and Alaska. They can be found in desert, forest, and mountain areas.


Feeding Habits

Like cows, mule deer have multi-chambered stomachs to digest the roughage they eat, such as leaves, twigs, grass, acorns, mushrooms, grapes, berries and other fruit.



Male and female deer connect during mating season, which usually takes place during November and December. The female gives birth to a litter (usually two) of fawns weighing four-and-a-half to eleven pounds (2 to 5 kg) each in mid-June or early July. The fawns have white spots that start to fade away when their mother begins to wean them. Fawns begin to eat vegetation at three to five weeks, and are weaned by four months. 



Mule deer do most of their feeding in the morning and evening, and they rest during midday to escape the heat, especially ones that live in desert areas. Female mule deer live in herds of related individuals, such as sisters, cousins, aunts, etc. Juvenile males leave the herd to form their own groups of unrelated males. Males may also lead solitary lives. They rarely enter water to escape predators, as white-tail deer do, although they are excellent swimmers. 



Mule deer are heavily hunted. A subspecies of the mule deer, the Cedros Island black-tailed deer, is listed as Endangered by the IUCN.  



Mule Deer Wildlife Fact File, IM Pub, US