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White-tailed Deer

White-tailed Deer

The white-tailed deer is a warm-blooded mammal found all across Texas. Deer eat twigs, leaves, grasses, forbs (weedy plants), fruits and nuts. Deer like to live on the edges of woods and brushy places. It has tan fur with white on its throat, on its belly and under its tail. When it runs, it raises its tail like a little white flag.

In the fall, the male deer, called a buck, looks for a mate. Fawns are born seven months later (as early as April in South Texas and May and June in the rest of Texas). Fawns are hidden for the first two weeks, but follow the mother as soon as they are able. Fawns have spots that help them hide from predators, especially in shady grasses and woods. Fawns lose their spots as they get older.

buck with antlersdeer buck with antlers in velvet

The buck sheds its antlers between December and March. Starting in May of the following year, the buck grows a new set of antlers! Bucks with new antlers are called "in velvet" because the new antlers have a fuzzy covering. As the year goes on, the velvet wears off. You can't tell how old a deer is by its antlers. To tell how old a deer is, you look at its teeth!

Many animals eat deer, so deer are prey. Since deer do not eat animals, they are not predators. Predators that eat deer include the coyote, bobcat, cougar, wild dogs and humans. If food is plentiful, deer have twins or triplets! Hunting helps keep the deer population in balance with its food supply. Many deer can now be found around cities, where there are few predators and hunting is restricted. Texas has about four million white-tailed deer!

What did we learn about the White-tailed deer?
  • Is this animal a bird, mammal, reptile or fish?
  • Is it warm-blooded or cold-blooded?
  • Does the male have antlers or horns?
  • Do deer live in your part of Texas?
  • Is the deer a predator, prey or both?

Bonus: Do you know the difference between antlers and horns? Animals with antlers shed and regrow their antlers each year. Animals with horns don't shed their horns.