Critter Corner -
DID YOU KNOW:
White-tailed deer are named for the white fur on the underside
of the tail. The deer raises its tail straight up when it
senses danger. As the deer runs to escape it wags its tail
from side to side to show this white flag to alert other deer of
a potential threat. Male deer are called bucks; females
are called does; babies are called fawns; and young deer are
Deer are all herbivores (plant eaters). Food includes
twigs, grasses and farm crops. Fruits and mushrooms are
favorite foods. Winter acorns, hickory nuts and corn left
on the ground after harvest become essential food for winter
November is peak deer mating time. The dominant bucks
compete for territory and females that are ready to breed.
fight fiercely with their antlers.
In late May or June, mom deer gives birth -- often to twins.
The spotted, well camouflaged babies remain hidden with mom on
guard nearby. Mom licks the fawns to clean them. She
nurses them for six weeks or so, but the fawns begin
following mom and nibbling green vegetation when they are about
six weeks old.
Deer live through much of North America. They prefer
forested areas bordered by open fields. As common as deer
are today, it is hard to believe that deer were once gone from
most of Missouri. Thanks to good conservation measures,
deer are now abundant.
Deer first try to remain hidden. Their grayish fur blends
in well in the forest shadows. If threatened, deer run
fast to escape, zigzagging to throw off the predator. If
forced to fight, deer kick out with powerful legs and sharp
hooves that can kill an attacking coyote. A mother deer
will fight fiercely to defend her helpless fawns.
Deer use a complex series of scents to identify each other.
Scents are produced by glands
different parts of their bodies.
Buck shed their antlers each January. Squirrels,
rabbits and other animals chew on these shed antlers for
calcium and other minerals.
To learn more about
(Photo credits: Buck, US Fish
& Wildlife Service; Doe browsing by lake, Laurie Brown; Fawn,
Laurie Brown; Antler, Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife)