White-tailed Deer

(Odocoileus virginianus)
Deer are herbivores, and feed on a wide range of plant materials. Female deer are called does and males are called bucks. It is the male animal that sports the antlers, which are grown and shed annually. During mating season, also called "the rut," males will spar with their antlers to establish dominance in an area that provides access to females. The " white-tail" name refers to the white underside of the tail, which the animal flashes when alarmed.

Most white-tailed deer mate in the fall of their second year, between October and December. Gestation lasts approximately 6 and 1/2 months. A first pregnancy will typically produce a single fawn, but subsequent pregnancies may produce two or even three. Fawns are precocious and able to walk at birth. After two months they begin feeding on vegetation, and by 10 weeks they are fully weaned.

Mother deer are very protective of their young, and will hide their offspring before leaving to forage for food. Camouflage is an important adaptation which serves the fawns well while they lay hidden. Young males leave their mother after a year but young females may stay for up to two years.

Facts About White-tailed Deer

White-tailed deer are native to almost every continent with the exception of Australia and Antarctica. They can be found in many habitats, but prefer woodland areas for shelter and food sources.  In Southeast Louisiana swamps make good places for deer to hide out during the hunting season, and pines provide shelter and warm bedding material during the colder months. Deer are typically most active near dawn and dusk.