Appearance▲ Back to topThe deer's coat is a reddish-brown in the spring and summer and turns to a grey-brown throughout the fall and winter. The deer can be recognized by the characteristic white underside to its tail, which it shows as a signal of alarm by raising the tail during escape. There is a population of white-tailed deer in the state of New York that is entirely white —not albino—in color. The former Seneca Army Depot in Romulus, New York, has the largest known concentration of white deer. Strong conservation efforts have allowed white deer to thrive within the confines of the depot.
Naming▲ Back to topSome subspecies names, ordered alphabetically except first entry:
⤷ ''O. v. virginianus'' – Virginia Whitetailed deer or Southern white-tailed deer
⤷ ''O. v. acapulcensis'' – Acapulco white-tailed deer
⤷ ''O. v. borealis'' – Northern white-tailed deer
⤷ ''O. v. cariacou'' –
⤷ ''O. v. carminis'' – Carmen Mountains Jorge deer
⤷ ''O. v. chiriquensis'' – Chiriqui white-tailed deer
⤷ ''O. v. clavium'' – Key Deer or Florida Keys white-tailed deer found
⤷ ''O. v. couesi'' – Coues white-tailed deer, Arizona white-tailed deer, or fantail deer
⤷ ''O. v. curassavicus'' –
⤷ ''O. v. dacotensis'' – Dakota white-tailed deer or Northern plains white-tailed deer
⤷ ''O. v. goudotii'' – and west Venezuela)
⤷ ''O. v. gymnotis'' – South American white-tailed deer
⤷ ''O. v. hiltonensis'' – Hilton Head Island white-tailed deer
⤷ ''O. v. leucurus'' – Columbian white-tailed deer
⤷ ''O. v. macrourus'' – Kansas white-tailed deer
⤷ ''O. v. margaritae'' –
⤷ ''O. v. mcilhennyi'' – Avery Island white-tailed deer
⤷ ''O. v. mexicanus'' – Mexican white-tailed deer
⤷ ''O. v. miquihuanensis'' – Miquihuan white-tailed deer
⤷ ''O. v. nelsoni'' – Chiapas white-tailed deer
⤷ ''O. v. nemoralis'' –
⤷ ''O. v. nigribarbis'' – Blackbeard Island white-tailed deer
⤷ ''O. v. oaxacensis'' – Oaxaca white-tailed deer
⤷ ''O. v. ochrourus'' – Northwest white-tailed deer or Northern Rocky Mountains white-tailed deer
⤷ ''O. v. osceola'' – Florida coastal white-tailed deer
⤷ ''O. v. peruvianus'' – South American white-tailed deer or Andean white-tailed deer
⤷ ''O. v. rothschildi'' – Coiba Island white-tailed deer
⤷ ''O. v. seminolus'' – Florida white-tailed deer
⤷ ''O. v. sinaloae'' – Sinaloa white-tailed deer
⤷ ''O. v. taurinsulae'' – Bulls Island white-tailed deer
⤷ ''O. v. texanus'' – Texas white-tailed deer
⤷ ''O. v. truei'' – Central American white-tailed deer
⤷ ''O. v. thomasi'' – Mexican Lowland white-tailed deer
⤷ ''O. v. toltecus'' – Rain Forest white-tailed deer
⤷ ''O. v. tropicalis'' –
⤷ ''O. v. ustus'' –
⤷ ''O. v. venatorius'' – Hunting Island white-tailed deer
⤷ ''O. v. veraecrucis'' – Northern Vera Cruz white-tailed deer
⤷ ''O. v. yucatanensis'' – Yucatán white-tailed deer
Behavior▲ Back to topMales compete for the opportunity of breeding females. Sparring among males determines a dominance hierarchy. Bucks will attempt to copulate with as many females as possible, losing physical condition since they rarely eat or rest during the rut. The general geographical trend is for the rut to be shorter in duration at increased latitude. There are many factors as to how intense the "rutting season" will be. Air temperature is one major factor of this intensity. Any time the temperature rises above 40 °F , the males will do much less traveling looking for females, or they will be subject to overheating or dehydrating. Another factor for the strength in rutting activity is competition. If there are numerous males in a particular area, then they will compete more for the females. If there are fewer males or more females, then the selection process will not need to be as competitive.White-tailed deer communicate in many different ways using sounds, scent, body language, and marking. All white-tailed deer are capable of producing audible noises unique to each animal. Fawns release a high-pitched squeal, known as a bleat, to call out to their mothers. A doe makes maternal grunts when searching for her bedded fawns. Grunting produces a low, guttural sound that will attract the attention of any other deer in the area. Both does and bucks snort, a sound that often signals danger. As well as snorting, bucks also grunt at a pitch that gets lower with maturity. Bucks are unique in their grunt-snort-wheeze pattern that often shows aggression and hostility. Another way white-tailed deer communicate is with their white tail. When a white-tail deer is spooked it will raise its tail to warn the other deer in the area that can see it.
Habitat▲ Back to topWhite-tailed deer are generalists and can adapt to a wide variety of habitats. The largest deer occur in the temperate regions of Canada and United States. The Northern white-tailed deer , Dakota white-tailed deer , and Northwest white-tailed deer are some of the largest animals, with large antlers. The smallest deer occur in the Florida Keys and in partially wooded lowlands in the neotropics.
Although most often thought of as forest animals depending on relatively small openings and edges, white-tailed deer can equally adapt themselves to life in more open prairie, savanna woodlands, and sage communities as in the Southwestern United States and northern Mexico. These savanna-adapted deer have relatively large antlers in proportion to their body size and large tails. Also, there is a noticeable difference in size between male and female deer of the savannas. The Texas white-tailed deer , of the prairies and oak savannas of Texas and parts of Mexico, are the largest savanna-adapted deer in the Southwest, with impressive antlers that might rival deer found in Canada and the northern United States. There are also populations of Arizona and Carmen Mountains white-tailed deer that inhabit montane mixed oak and pine woodland communities. The Arizona and Carmen Mountains deer are smaller but may also have impressive antlers, considering their size. The white-tailed deer of the Llanos region of Colombia and Venezuela have antler dimensions that are similar to the Arizona white-tailed deer.
In western regions of the United States and Canada, the white-tailed deer range overlaps with those of the black-tailed deer and mule deer. White-tail incursions in the Trans-Pecos region of Texas has resulted in some hybrids. In the extreme north of the range, their habitat is also used by moose in some areas. White-tailed deer may occur in areas that are also exploited by elk such as in mixed deciduous river valley bottomlands and formerly in the mixed deciduous forest of Eastern United States. In places such as Glacier National Park in Montana and several national parks in the Columbian Mountains and Canadian Rocky Mountains as well as starting to appear in the Yukon Territory , white-tailed deer are shy and more reclusive than the coexisting mule deer, elk, and moose.
Central American white-tailed deer prefer tropical and subtropical dry broadleaf forests, seasonal mixed deciduous forests, savanna, and adjacent wetland habitats over dense tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests. South American subspecies of white-tailed deer live in two types of environments. The first type, similar to the Central American deer, consists of savannas, dry deciduous forests, and riparian corridors that cover much of Venezuela and eastern Colombia. The other type is the higher elevation mountain grassland/mixed forest ecozones in the Andes Mountains, from Venezuela to Peru. The Andean white-tailed deer seem to retain gray coats due to the colder weather at high altitudes, whereas the lowland savanna forms retain the reddish brown coats. South American white-tailed deer, like those in Central America, also generally avoid dense moist broadleaf forests.
Since the second half of the nineteenth century, white-tailed deer have been introduced to Europe. A population of white-tailed deer in the Brdy area remains stable today. In 1935, white-tailed deer were introduced to Finland. The introduction was successful, and the deer have recently begun spreading through northern Scandinavia and southern Karelia, competing with, and sometimes displacing, native fauna. The current population of some 30,000 deer originate from four animals provided by Finnish Americans from Minnesota.
Reproduction▲ Back to topFemales enter estrus, colloquially called the ''rut'', in the autumn, normally in late October or early November, triggered mainly by the declining photoperiod. Sexual maturation of females depends on population density as well as availability of food. Females can mature in their first year, although this is unusual and would occur only at very low population levels. Most females mature at 1–2 years of age. Most are not able to reproduce until six months after they mature.
Females give birth to 1–3 spotted young, known as fawns, in mid to late spring, generally in May or June. Fawns lose their spots during the first summer and will weigh from 44 to 77 pounds by the first winter. Male fawns tend to be slightly larger and heavier than females. For the first four weeks, fawns mostly lie still and hide in vegetation while their mothers forage. They are then able to follow their mothers on foraging trips. They are weaned after 8–10 weeks. Males will leave their mothers after a year and females leave after two.
Bucks are generally sexually mature at 1.5 years old and will begin to breed even in populations stacked with older bucks.
Food▲ Back to topWhitetail deer eat large varieties of food, commonly eating legumes and foraging on other plants, including shoots, leaves, cacti, and grasses. They also eat acorns, fruit, and corn. Their special stomach allows them to eat some things that humans cannot, such as mushrooms and poison ivy. Their diet varies by season according to availability of food sources. They will also eat hay, grass, white clover, and other food that they can find in a farm yard. Though almost entirely herbivorous, white-tailed deer have been known to opportunistically feed on nesting songbirds, field mice, and birds trapped in Mist nets.
The white-tailed deer is a ruminant, which means it has a four-chambered stomach. Each chamber has a different and specific function that allows the deer to quickly eat a variety of different food, digesting it at a later time in a safe area of cover. The Whitetail stomach hosts a complex set of bacteria that change as the deer's diet changes through the seasons. If the bacteria necessary for digestion of a particular food are absent it will not be digested.
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