The white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) belongs to the family cervidae. The cervidae or “deer family” contains 47 species of antlered, ruminant (cud chewing) mammals and includes caribou, elk and moose. The white-tailed deer has a vast distribution, stretching from southern Canada to parts of South America and with introduced populations existing in Europe and New Zealand. In the Americas, it is the most widely distributed wild ungulate or “hoofed mammal”.
An herbivore, white-tailed deer eat only plants, their varied diet includes leaves, apples, acorns, beechnuts, clover, lichens and even certain types of mushrooms. Being primarily nocturnal creatures, white-tailed deer feed mainly at night or during the early morning and evening hours. Unfortunately for motorists, salted highways also attract white-tailed deer and the Maine Department of Transportation reports approximately 3,000 of these animals are hit every year, occasionally with fatal results for both deer and motorist. Deer collisions are most common during October to December with 70% occurring when it’s dark.
White-tailed deer possess incredible speed and agility, being highly capable of running up to 30 miles per hour, leaping as high as 10 feet and capable of swimming great distances to escape being preyed upon by humans, bobcats, and coyotes.
In November, mating season occurs; also called the “rut”. During this time, fighting between male deer (bucks) is common, as they use their sharply pointed antlers in battles for supremacy over territory and females (does). Only the bucks annually grow antlers and they fall off in the winter after breeding season ends. Females give birth to one to three young, usually in May or June. Young deer (fawns) wear a white spotted brown coat that helps them blend in with their environments and hides them from predators.
Wildlife Quiz Questions:
1. How many species exist in the deer family “cervidae”?
2. Where have white-tailed deer been introduced?
3. What does “ungluate” mean?
4. How many white-tailed deer are reported by MDOT as being hit every year?
5. When do the largest majority of white-tailed deer collisions occur?
6. How fast can a white-tailed deer run?
7. What are male deer called?
8. When do female (does) white-tailed deer give birth?
9. What are baby white-tailed deer called?
Wildlife Quiz Answers:
1. 47 species exist in the deer family “cervidae”.
2. White-tailed deer been introduced into Europe and New Zealand.
3. “Ungulate” means “hoofed animal”.
4. MDOT reports that 3,000 deer collide with motorists every year.
5. The largest number of white-tailed deer collisions occurs in October and November when it is dark.
6. A white-tailed deer can run up to approximately 30 miles per hour.
7. Male white-tailed deer are called bucks.
8. Female (doe) white-tailed deer give birth in May or June.
9. Baby white-tailed deer are called fawns.