White-Tailed Deer facts (Odocoileus virginianus)


White-tailed deer
Odocoileus virginianus


The white-tailed deer is the most common deer species throughout North America. Often confused with the mule deer, the white-tailed deer is differentiated by their antler shape and tail size and appearance. Predators include wolves, coyotes, cougars, and bears. “White-tailed” refers to the distinctive white tail that when raised is a flag and provides a flash of white, signaling other deer when there is danger. Deer are graceful and swift runners (up to 35 miles per hour), but do not generally run long distances, preferring to seek the nearest shelter whenever possible. Male deer are called “bucks”, females “does” and baby deer “fawns”. These deer tend to live in female-led family groups of up to 25 deer and may live to ten years or more. Deer have a good sense of smell, keen hearing and eyesight, but they are color blind, which is why they may not notice humans dressed in “hunter orange.”

Waves tail like a white flag when fleeing. Males grow antlers from May until August; shed them in early to late spring. Mating season (rut) peaks in November; fawns born usually in late May or June. Their tubular or hollow hairs provide insulation, allowing them to lie on snow without melting it, as well as creating enough buoyancy for swimming.

Summer coat: red-brown; winter coat: gray-brown; throat and inside ears with whitish patches; belly, inner thighs, and underside of tail white.

According to the IUCN this species is considered LEAST CONCERN (lowest threat level).
According to the IUCN this species is considered LEAST CONCERN (lowest threat level).

6-8 feet (1.8-2.4 m)

3.5 feet at the shoulder (1 m).

Adults: 150–250 pounds (68-113 kg).

2-6 years in the wild, but 6-14 years in captivity

Least concern

Deer thrive best in areas with young forests and brush where they feed on buds, branches, fresh grass, and green leaves that are close to the ground.

Eats shrubs, forbs, grasses; conifers in spring. Deer are ruminants, like cows and have four stomachs. In the first stomach, called the rumen, microorganisms break down plant tissue. Like cows, deer will occasionally regurgitate food and “chew their cud” to aid in the breakdown of food particles. The remaining three stomachs complete the digestion process.

White-tailed deer scat and tracks are the best signs of their presence.


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