White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus)
|Size:||Height:†2.6 to 3.5 feet (80 to 100 cm) Length: 5 to 7 feet (1.5 to 2.1 m)|
|Weight:||125 to 400 pounds (57 to 200 kg)|
|Diet:||Buds, twigs, leaves, fruit|
|Distribution:||North America, as well as Central America to Bolivia|
|Young:||1 to 4 fawns, once per year|
|Animal Predators:||Bobcats, coyotes, cougars and wolves|
|IUCN Status:||No special status|
|Terms:||Male: Buck Female: Doe Young: Fawn|
|Lifespan:||Average of 10 years in the wild and up to 20 years in captivity|
∑ White-tails are the most nervous and shy of North American deer.
∑ From 1900 to 1999, the U.S. population is estimated to have increased by between 48 and 69 times.
∑ The white-tailed deer† is Ohioís state mammal and Michiganís state game mammal.
White-tailed deer have brown fur with a white underbelly. Males have antlers that are shed between January and March, and grow back in April/May, losing their velvet in August/September. Females are smaller than males and usually do not have antlers. They are named for their tail, which is white underneath. When alarmed, these deer raise their tail, showing the white as they race away. They have a white patch on their throat and white on their muzzle, surrounding their nose. White-tailed deer have scent glands on all four hooves, between the two parts of the foot. The scent is used for communication with other deer, with secretions becoming especially strong during mating season.
The range of a deer is usually very small, only one square kilometre (.38 sq miles) or less. They usually do not migrate in the winter, remaining even in snowy, cold areas. White-tailed deer live near farmland, in† forests and sometimes even desert, adapting their diets to whatever kind of vegetation is available, although they prefer to live near water.
White-tailed deer eat a large variety of vegetation, including buds, twigs, leaves, shrubs and fruit.
Mating occurs between September and February. Bucks are polygamous, but will stay with a doe for several days. Fawns are born between March and early August, with white spots that fade completely before the age of one. Does give birth to one fawn in their first litter, and after that will have two, or sometimes even three or four, although two is the usual number for a litter. Fawns can stand and nurse within a few minutes of birth. At three weeks, fawns begin to eat vegetation, and are weaned by four months. Although male fawns leave their mother within the first year, females often stay with her for up to two years.
White-tailed deer are generally solitary creatures, but in the winter, they group in herds for warmth. Nimble and quick runners, they can reach speeds of up to 40 miles per hour (64 kph), even running through dense forest. They are also adept and confident swimmers, entering the water to escape predators and insects, or to cross to another area.
Two subspecies in the United States are listed by the IUCN: Odocoileus virginianus leucurus is listed as Lower Risk, Near Threatened, while Odocoileus virginianus clavium is listed as Endangered. Another subspecies, Odocoileus hemionus cerrosense is listed as Endangered in Mexico.
White-tailed Deer Wildlife Fact File, IM Pub, US