Deer are among the most widespread animals in the world today. They are quite recognizable, and their antlers remain their most popular feature. However, there are certain facts about deer that are not well-known yet very fascinating. Therefore, we have compiled 10 incredible facts about deer that you may not have been aware of.
1. There are about 40 species of deer
When the word “deer” is mentioned, usually just one or two species come to our mind. However, there are about 40 different species of deer. Notably, even though deer are quite widespread, a good number of them are endangered. Some of the popular deer species include:
Some of the species of deer that are listed as endangered species according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) include:
2. Disney’s “Bambi” is modeled after the white-tailed deer
Deer have appeared on the big screen and have enjoyed Hollywood fame, thanks to the Disney classic “Bambi,” a story that revolves around a young deer trying to find its way in life. Bambi, as depicted in the movie, is a white-tailed deer that is most commonly found in North America. It is interesting to note that the species used in the movie is quite different from the one used in the book, the roe deer. The major reason for this may be the need to use a deer that was recognizable in the United States for the movie.
3. Deer may be vegetarians, but they still cause more human deaths than sharks in the United States
Generally speaking, deer are harmless to human beings since they are vegetarians and will usually not attack human beings. However, statistics show that they still cause about 120-200 deaths per year in the United States, which is more deaths than are caused by sharks. These deaths are usually caused by car accidents involving deer crossing the road, and they are most common during mating season when the animals are not in any way mindful of the road.
Deer-caused accidents generally involve drivers who swerve to avoid hitting deer and instead hit an upcoming vehicle or lose control of the vehicle.
4. Deer would be really good at sports
Deer can do a wide range of physical activities quite impressively. They are good sprinters, they can jump, and they are excellent swimmers. When it comes to jumping, an average deer can jump as high as 8-10 feet high. Therefore, you want to ensure that your deer fences are higher than that. Furthermore, some deer can achieve a speed of 45mph, making them pretty fast.
5. Mother deer will respond to the cries of a human baby
It is expected that mothers respond to the cries of their young ones, and we may even expect humans to respond to the cries of puppies or kittens. However, scientists have observed that mother deer will respond to the cries of human babies, as well as other mammals like they would their own children.
This is especially true if the cries fall within the frequency of the cries made by their own young ones. Experiments showed mother deer coming within 10-25 meters of calls of human babies, young sea lions, ungulates, cats, etc. From this, it is safe to say that “mothers will always be mothers.”
6. Reindeer are the only kind of deer whose females have antlers
It is a general rule that only male deer grow antlers. However, in the case of reindeer, that rule doesn’t apply. The female reindeer grows antlers for two primary reasons. The first is to defend food, and the second is to protect themselves during pregnancy. It is important to note that the antlers of female reindeer are significantly smaller than those of their male counterparts.
Female reindeer grow antlers that are about 20 inches long, while the males grow antlers that are about 50 inches long.
7. Some deer have fangs instead of antlers
One of the immediately recognizable features of deer is their antlers. However, there are deer species that lack antlers and possess fangs instead. Two species of deer that possess fangs are the Siberian musk deer and the water deer. They are popularly referred to as fanged or vampire deer. Water deer are native to both Korea and China, while Siberian musk deer are mostly found in southern Siberia and parts of Mongolia.
8. The moose is the largest species of deer
Moose are an incredibly large deer species, with adult males weighing about 1200 to 1600 lbs. The females are generally smaller, weighing 800 to 1200 lbs., and the largest ever recorded moose weighed 1,808 lbs!
Unlike many deer species, moose spend most of their time on their own, except during the breeding season. The species ranges widely in North America, including Alaska, Canada, and the northeastern US. There are also isolated populations of moose in the Rocky Mountain ranges, occurring as far south as Colorado and Utah.
9. Deer shed their antlers
It is common to see adult male deer without antlers during certain times of the year because they have shed them and are regrowing them. Most deer species shed their antlers once a year, though the exact time may differ among individuals. Usually, however, deer shed their antlers either in late fall or in early winter.
10. Deer can be occasionally carnivorous
Deer are generally herbivores and survive on vegetation. However, on occasion, some species of deer have been spotted eating meat in the form of live birds, fish, and dead rabbits. In fact, in a rather rare sighting, a white-tailed deer was spotted eating the remains of human bones. Some experts explain that deer pursue flesh when lacking minerals like phosphorous and calcium, especially in the winter when vegetation is scarce.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © ROMAN DZIUBALO/Shutterstock.com
Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.