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5 Interesting Whitetail Deer Facts

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Of all the animals that roam North America’s forests, the whitetail deer is one of the most majestic. It’s also one of the most common and most famous of all deer species that you’re likely to meet. Despite their ubiquity in North America, whitetail deer are native to Europe.

Nevertheless, they’ve become crucial to the North American ecosystem. There’s plenty more you’ve likely never known about whitetail deer. Examples include their unique way of communicating and that their coats change.

They’re even utilized in traditional Chinese medicine. Finding out more Whitetail deer facts is easy and interesting to boot. These creatures are beautiful and more than the inspiration for Bambi.

Here are some exciting whitetail deer facts to think about on your next hike.

1. White-Tailed Deer Are True to Their Name

Whether you consider their summer or winter coats – these deers’ tails always remain white and bushy. This characteristic adds to their endearing appeal and nature.

Their scientific name is also relevant. White-tailed deer are also known as Odocoileus Virginianus. Its genus “Odocoileus” is from the words “odonto,” and “coelus” put together.

These words combined mean “hallow-tooth.” Its specific epithet “virginianus” means Virginia. This is also reflected through its other common name, the “Virginia deer.”

In general, they fall in the family Cervidae. It’s a general classification for mammals, and it includes all types of deer and similar animals. If you’ve ever asked, “are there different types of deer?” Then this answers your question.

The Cervidae family branches wide enough to include moose, elks, and reindeer.

2. Bambi Is the Most Popular White-Tailed Deer

We all love Disney, and if there’s one deer that many of us grew up with, it would be Bambi. However, did you know that Bambi was artistically modeled after a white-tailed deer? This comes as no surprise as white-tailed deer are adorable and quite common.

They’re the most widespread and numerous deer in the Americas. So much so that the hunting industry relies on their existence. White-tailed deer, like Bambi, are solitary creatures.

At times, people do catch them in small herds of five to six deer, but this isn’t as common as it seems. They’re also known to leave their fawns (baby deer) unattended for long periods. This makes them vulnerable in the wild, so if you’re wondering how long do deer live, the answer will vary.

In captivity, they can live up to 20 years, but this isn’t true in the wild. It all depends on the season, too, for example, during peak mating. Some white-tailed deer rarely survive past their prime.

3. Their Coats Change Depending on the Season

Like most animals in the wild, the white-tailed deer have learned how to adapt to the seasons. One way they do this is through their coats changing not only in color but also in composition. As the cooler and harsher seasons of autumn and winter come in, they shed their summer coats.

The main difference between these coats comes from their undercoating. In the spring and summer months, they’re thinner and less dense. White-tailed deer have reddish-brown fur during this time.

Their unmistakable markings of white on their back and tails contrast well to this. These summer coats help them stay cooler during the warmer months, too. It also protects them from predators as it blends better with the foliage.

This is much unlike their winter coats, thicker and greyish-white in color. The winter undercoating is denser to keep them insulated better. Not only that, but it also absorbs more sunlight during the shorter days.

White-tailed deer need this for more warmth during colder nights. Finally, the ashy color also helps them camouflage with their surroundings. This is especially with the leafless trees and snow of these seasons.

4. They Have a Unique Way of Communicating

Scent plays a huge role in their lives and survival in the animal world. The same goes for the white-tailed deer. They have unique scent glands called the Tarsal glands.

You’ll find these in the inner leg and hock of a deer’s hind leg. These glands are often more noticeable as they come across as more bristly and brash. Through these glands, deer can release oils, pheromones, and scent secretions.

The deer use these scents throughout their life, but they become even more useful during mating season. Another way that they communicate is through vocalizing. Some say the white-tailed deer have special grunts, snorts, and wheezes.

Though they do bleat from time to time, they’re most commonly documented to whistle and snort. Decoding deer body language and vocalization work hand in hand. It’s almost impossible to understand their method of communication.

The only exception is if you have the skill and experience of someone who has been around or worked with them. Hunters, field scientists, and nature enthusiasts all know this well. From understanding a deer’s diet to knowing where do deer sleep comes as second nature.

5. White-Tailed Deer are Surprisingly Common

As previously mentioned, white-tailed deer are quite common. They’re spread out in parts of the US as well as Canada. One of the most uncommon whitetail deer facts is that they’re also seen in parts of Europe as an introduced species.

Documentation of the white-tailed deer goes as far as the Czech Republic and even Finland. That said, they’re valuable in every culture, not only as a hunting game but also as a part of the ecosystem. Some cultures even see them as a prized commodity.

One example of this is in Asian and Chinese traditional medicine. Deer antler velvet is highly regarded and believed to have medicinal properties. This is what makes them coveted despite their commonality.

Interesting Whitetail Deer Facts

Anyone who has ever seen Disney’s Bambi knows what a whitetail deer looks like. That said, there are plenty of whitetail deer facts that many people don’t know. They communicate via a mixture of scent and sound and change their coats with the seasons.

They aren’t even native to North America but have become indispensable to it. From medicine to hunting and staring at their beauty, there’s plenty to know and appreciate about whitetail deer.

If you want to know more about other wildlife you may encounter in the woods, check out our other blog posts!

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