Deer are among the most familiar animals in Washington and in many locations, they’re the most populated species of wildlife people come across. Their beauty and aesthetics are admired and admired, although their love for gardens and landscape plants tries some people’s patience. Most often, deer are found in open habitats like meadows or clearcuts. They then retreat to more secure areas such as thickets and forest canopy trees, where they can take a break and eat their food.
A kind of mammal known as an ungulate, deer is a species known as a mammal. They walk on their “Hooves”, or toes. One distinctive characteristic of the family deer is their antlers. Antlers are shed each year, while horns can be permanently attached to the skull. Deer can be active at any hour of the day, but tend to be most active from dawn until dusk.
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This is known as a “crepuscular” rhythm of activity.
Food and Feeding Habits
- While deer are able to eat a variety of plants, their main food is browse, which is the tips of the trees or shrubs. Deer consume grass, clover and other herbaceous plants in the latter part of winter and in the early spring.
- Deer also eat fruit, nuts, acorns, fungi, lichens, and farm and garden crops if available.
- In their initial few days of life the fawns are nourished by milk that is twice as rich in total solids as the best cow milk.
- Deer eat rapidly and, being ruminants, at first, they chew their food just enough to swallow it. Food is stored in the stomach, which is known as the “rumen”. It is then digested and repeated chewed to swallow. This is where digestion begins. The food is then passed on to the third, fourth and last stomach before getting to the intestine.
Range and shelter
- Deer can be described as “edge species” in which they thrive in the vicinity of open spaces and cover. This allows them to find the cover they need to escape, while also having the ability to feed into productive openings.
- A lot of suburban forests like parks, greenbelts, golf courses, and roadsides, cater to the needs of deer.
- Mule deer are able to travel across long distances during spring as well as autumn migrations in order to keep out mountain snow. Mule deer in the summer in the Cascades could travel as much as 80 miles to get to their winter home range.
- The Black-tailed and White-tailed deer typically reside within an area of 1/2 up to 3 miles. In mountainous regions they could be moved to lower elevations during the winter months.
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Family structure and reproduction
- Deer breed during the rutting season that typically takes place between the months of November and December. Bucks compete to be the first to breed using ritualized posturing and movements, and occasionally with intense fighting.
- Deer bucks don’t have females in herds like elk. However, a mature buck may breed with multiple females.
- Pregnancy lasts 180 to 200 days. A fawn may be born to a female who is younger, but if she is three to nine years old and healthy the fawn could give birth to two. Sometimes, triplets can be found for white-tailed deer.
- Newborns nurse shortly after birth, and is able to walk on spindly legs in a matter of minutes.
- Adult bucks do not take part in the cuddling of young fawns. They are usually solitary or form bachelor parties in the summer.
- A family group usually consists of an ox, her fawns and sometimes her fawns. Occasionally, groups of several does are seen together.
- Deer are often more numerously observed during winter. They are often found in groups of 15-30, usually because they have restricted winter habitat.