A white-tailed deer buck in golden light. By Paul Tessier | Shutterstock.com
A white-tailed deer buck in golden light. By Paul Tessier | Shutterstock.com

About white-tailed deers.

This species shows a clear sexual dimorphism: besides a big difference in size, males are the only ones with antlers. They shed them every winter and grow them again in spring at astonishing speed (up to 2.5 cm per day). Once on the ground, they are eaten by rodents or other small animals because of their high calcium content and other nutrients.

They are quite fast (they can reach a running speed of up to 65 km/h). They are also good swimmers, so they often enter the water to run away from their predators. They hop when running and they can jump as far as 7.5 meters.

White tailed deer don’t usually live more than 5 years in the wild, very little compared to the 20 years they can live when domesticated.

These animals swallow food without mastication, to be regurgitated later into the mouth and chewed. They have a stomach comprised of four chambers, which helps them with the difficult process of digesting some types of plants. These animals can also eat many kinds of mushrooms that are poisonous to humans.

White-tailed deers have very sharp incisors to tear sprouts and food, and specialized molars to grind them.

The coat of these animals changes with the seasons of the year, being orangish-brown in the warm months and grayish-brown in the cold ones. This change takes place in only 1-2 weeks and helps them blend in with the vegetation of its habitat.

When the deer’s antlers grow, they are covered in something like velvet, that later dries out and falls, giving the antlers a much “stronger” appearance. This hardening happens due to the calcification that follows the increase of testosterone levels for breeding purposes during the fall.

The white tailed deer uses its antlers to fight other males during the mating season. Showing their strength increases the chances of mating with a female.

These animals have a very acute sense of smell and hearing. They can move their large ears to detect potential predators and be ready to run away. They also have a very good night vision, quite deficient during the day, in broad daylight.

To alert its congeners to danger, the white-tailed deer raises its tail, blows and stamps its feet repeatedly.

These animals have glands on the legs that release a scent to mark territory and communicate with other deer.

There are 38 white tailed deer subspecies known today. The southern subspecies are a little smaller than the northern ones, they don’t have the metatarsal gland and their antler is smaller.

White-tailed deer fawn (Odocoileus virginianus) in the forest. By Jim Cumming | Shutterstock.com
White-tailed deer fawn (Odocoileus virginianus) in the forest. By Jim Cumming | Shutterstock.com
White-tailed deerLeast concern
Odocoileus virginianus95 to 220 cm (37 to 87 in)
Cervidae40 – 180 kg (88 – 400 lb)
Artiodactyla6-14 years
Mammalia6.5 months
This species is commonThey feed on many different types of plants from the surroundings in which they live.
It can be found in a wide variety of habitats: tropical rainforests, deciduous forests and savannas in Central America and the north of South America.From the south of Canada to the north of South America.

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