Scientific name: Odocoileus virginianus
Other common names: Virginia Deer; Whitetail; Virginia White-tail
White-tailed deer are native to the Americas. They are found in Canada, the United States, Mexico, Central America, and South America. They have been introduced to Europe and New Zealand. They inhabit oak and pine woodlands, open prairies, oak savannas, and sage communities.
Appearance / health:
White-tailed deer found in the northern parts of the US are larger (bigger bodies, longer tails and antlers) than those found in Central and South America. As their name indicates, their tails have white undersides, which are used to “flag” or signal distress and to help juveniles follow their mothers when fleeing.
The White-tailed deer is typically grayish brown in the winter and tan or golden brown in the summer. Aside from under the tail, white markings are also seen on its throat, stomach, and around the eyes and nose. Males (or bucks) have antlers. As the deer matures, the snout grows longer and the coat becomes more grayish in color.
Deer are susceptible to ailments associated with parasites like lice, ticks, and roundworms. They become vulnerable to predators in the winter when they are not able to move about efficiently through the snow.
Behavior / temperament:
White-tailed deer are shy and easily alarmed. When threatened, they stomp and snort to warn other deer and then flee with their tails flipped upright to show the white color as a distress flag. They will run up to 30 mph, leap, and swim to escape predators. They communicate with audible noises including squeals, bleats, grunts, and snorts. They also use scents to mark their territories.
Housing / diet:
White-tailed deer are free-roaming animals that thrive in woodlands, prairies, and savannahs. A family of deer will typically consider a home range of about one square mile.
White-tailed deer are herbivorous, foraging on grasses, leaves, twigs, legumes, buds, and fruits. They prefer to feed on green plants during the spring and summer, and corn and nuts during the winter. They feed early in the morning and late in the afternoon. Like cattle and goats, deer are ruminants with four stomachs.
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One Deer, Two Deer, Three Deer, Oh Dear!
My father and brother both worked on a coal strip in the mountains, and it was an everyday occurrence that man and nature collided. Sad to say, often the collision was a coal truck and an animal crossing the road. Sometimes, these poor animals left young behind, and that's where my mother stepped in. It was well known in the town I lived in that any orphaned animals, wild or tame, could find a home and a caretaker with us. Don't worry, we had the legal permits. That's how we came to be the caretakers of Ivy, Coal, and Bell. These three cuties all lost their mothers within a week of each other. They were brought to our home hungry, afraid, and alone. We kept them in our home the first week to familiarize them with us and to keep them warm while we took turns with their feedings and prompting them to urinate/defecate. During that time we built them an enclosure near the house with a lean-to and high fence. After that first week, we kept the interaction to a minimum. Our goal was to raise them and release them back into the wild. The work was rewarding, cute, and a little heartbreaking. But, there's no better feeling than watching those white tails fly up as they bounded away into the forest that bordered our property..
From MamaCass24 Jan 19 2015 8:41PM
Deer in headlights
I have known several people who have raised deer to be pets. Some even raise them right along side their dog, then they think they're puppies. Like a dog, deer need plenty of room to exercise and run around. So keeping them contained within a house would not be ideal. Most hand raised deer are calm and gentle and very friendly, however, some can be spastic and territorial. This was the case with a male hand raised deer I worked with at the sanctuary. He was not afraid of humans because he was hand raised and he was very aggressive to anyone who entered his yard. This was very dangerous considering he put one of the caregivers in the hospital after impaling him with his antlers. Deer are very high stress meaning if they are not hand raised and are rescued and rehabbed they can die solely from stress. Deer eat a variety of foods, from plants to fruits and veggies. Though a deer feed can be purchased at a feed store. Deer also poop in pellets so its fairly easy to clean up after them. Many deer that I've worked with have had stomach issues from formula and often require pumpkin in their diet. Although I can not see keeping a deer in the house, I think I would like to have some hanging out in my yard as long as they're not aggressive. Make sure to check with your local game and fish to see if keeping a deer is legal in your area..
From brandibrown77 Feb 25 2015 10:55AM
I'm not sure where to begin on this subject. On the one hand, raising a deer is certainly a unique experience, and the sort of thing that will have passers-by stopping to gawk, but it's an entirely different ballgame when it comes to upkeep. You'll spend as much time doing research as you will caring for the deer, and that doesn't leave much time for enjoying them.
I'm not going to give a full tutorial on how to care for deer, but I will highlight a few key factors to consider. First and foremost, check your zoning and agricultural laws. We had to have our home registered with the Department of Agriculture as a farm thanks to residential and zoning regulations, and that's a hassle you don't want.
Secondly, you're going to have people wandering up to see the deer. That's a potentially major liability issue if someone gets hurt in the process, and while our deer were very pleasant and comfortable with people, accidents can happen. Thankfully we never had any issues, but it's a possibility.
These factors and about a dozen more lead me to the conclusion that while it can be a fun and unique thing, owning deer, it requires a degree of dedication, effort, research, and legal consideration that in my opinion is just not the right answer. Unless you're already raising livestock, I can't recommend that anyone own deer..
From JG11Bravo Jan 14 2014 8:54AM