Baby deer, are one of those animals that you can’t help but feel a sense of warmth and empathy for. They don’t have a mean bone in their body, and their innocence and fragility is something quite majestic to see. If you are lucky enough to live in an environment where you can see them live wild then you will know exactly what I mean.
Here are some baby deer facts that you might not know, as well as some answers to a few of the most frequently asked questions!
7 Fun Baby Deer Facts
Bucks Grow Independent First
It is quite common in the animal kingdom for one gender to mature faster than the other. For example, raccoon females mature quicker than males. With deer however, it is the male bucks that reach maturity quicker than the female does. While females may stay with their mother for around two years, bucks will often venture off in search of a mate around one year old.
While deer are essentially herd animals, usually existing in groups of up to 25, males can be solitary in searching for a partner. They have a distinctive roar that they use to attract a mate, and courtship usually involves a lot of chasing. Males will also generally group together during the winter months, outside the breeding season.
Unlike Their Cousins, Baby Deer Are Not Called Calves
There are some types of deer, namely Elk, Reindeer and Moose that have offspring that we generally call ‘calves’. However, there are around 60 species of deer and most babies are not called calves, they are known as ‘fawn’. It is believed that this comes from the old English ‘fawn‘ meaning glad or to rejoice. Births of two or more deer are known as a ‘litter‘ of deer.
As fawn grow into adolescence they are often called younglings. Not quite small enough to fit the name fawn, but neither are they fully grown. As they grow up, male deer are called bucks, but some species may also be known as a stag or a bull. Roe Deer in Europe for example are called bucks, whereas Red Deer are known as stags.
Female deer are known as a doe or a hind. Smaller species of female deer are those that tend to be known as doe, while larger breed are known as hinds. Collectively deer are often known as a ‘herd‘, a ‘rangale‘ a ‘mob‘ or a ‘parcel‘. Mob and herd are the most commonly used of these nouns. Other than for a litter of baby deer, there is no specific collective noun for a group of baby deer.
Babies Can Survive For Many Hours Away From Their Mother
Mother does are very busy animals. For many hours of a day they are out foraging for food. During that time, the young are usually left in areas of dense cover such as long grass or scrub, so that the mother can concentrate on the task at hand. When foraging and out of cover, the doe will move away from their young to prevent the eye of a predator, but they are rarely more than around 100 meters from their baby.
The baby deer are somewhat camouflaged by the white spots on their back and their light fur. This makes them difficult for predators to see when in cover, waiting for their mother to return.
Mothers Don’t Abandon Their Young
When young deer are spotted on their own, chances are they have not been abandoned and their mother is not to far away gathering food. Unlike many other species including many birds and some sheep, bears and rabbits, a mother deer does not abandon her young, even when handled by humans.
While the mothers may not object to human contact with their young, such contact may add to the vulnerability of the fawn. This is because contact leaves behind a scent that can be picked up by nearby predators adding to the risk that the fawn faces in the absence of their parent. It’s best not to handle wild fawn at all, for their own sake.
Baby Deer Are Born Around 6 Months After Conception
A deer pregnancy is shorter than a human pregnancy, by about a third. Most deer are born around the six month mark after conception. With deer breeding season landing around late autumn/early winter months, births tend to start around May/June. Believe it or not, once a fawn is born, it can usually stand up within 20-30 minutes, and walk within the first few hours!
There Are Often More Than One Deer In A Litter
Young mothers will usually only give birth to a single fawn. But as deer get older, they are more likely to have multiple fawns in a litter. Twins and triplets are very common in breeding with older female does. In fact, over a fifth of pregnancies can result in twins or triplets in good, balanced environments.
It is common though, for twins or triplets to be the result of mating with more than one male. So in areas where competition is high, or mating partners are scarce, there will be less twins or triplets naturally.
Famous Baby Deer
Bambi – Probably the first deer to make most kids cry at an early age. It might be animated, but Bambi is one of the most famous deer fawns. Known by every generation since Disney released it originally back in the 1940’s. Responsible for more tears around the world than red onions (perhaps a slight exaggeration)! It has captured the hearts of even the most steely of people for decades and continues to be a popular Disney classic.
Audrey Hepburn’s Fawn – Possibly the most famous fawn in real life, is the one that was fostered by Audrey Hepburn in the 1950’s. The fawn called Pippin, which she nicknamed ‘Ip’, was introduced to Hepburn for the filming of Green Mansions in 1958-59. It was suggested that to develop a close bond that would come across in the filming, that she take the fawn home to develop a connection. The film would display Hepburn as a woman in the jungle who was followed everywhere by a fawn.
The two became very close. She would take the fawn shopping in Beverly Hills, and it slept in a bathtub that she had custom made. For those close to Audrey, it was reported to be quite a sight to see this close bond.
Nara’s Deer – The deer of Nara Park are famous across Japan, and revered as symbols of the city of Nara. It is their legend in mythology that lies at the heart of their significance in this area.
It is believed that the deity Takemi Kajichi no Mikoto who is enshrined in the Kasuga Taisha Shrine within Nara Park, rode into Nara upon a sacred deer from the Kashima Shrine in Ibaraki Prefecture. The written character for Kashima Shrine is also a character for deer. Deer as a result are revered as sacred animals and have always been protected in the area. They are known to live freely around the city, with numbers well into the 100s.
Baby Deer FAQS
What do baby deer eat?
Baby deer are fully dependant on their mothers milk for the first few weeks (2-3 weeks) following birth. At this time they will nurse around 4-5 times per day for up to 30 minutes a time. After this they will start to subsidise their milk diet with soft grasses and nursing reduces to around 2-3 times per day. They can survive without mothers milk from around 10 weeks but are often weaned fully at around 16 weeks at the latest.
During the weaning process, baby deer will start to introduce a herbivorous diet of grasses, twigs, leaves, sedges and sometimes fruit and berries. Despite having plenty of mothers milk, they also need to drink water, more so as they wean of the milk.
How much do baby deer weigh?
Baby deer weigh between 4 and 8 pounds generally, but some breeds can be up to 12 pounds if it is a single birth. Their weight doubles in about the first 2 weeks and they are fully grown in about a year, which is when males usually leave the herd.
Antlers are also quick to grow in on young bucks. Those that have reached their first year, will start to grow antlers at a pace of around 1.9 cm per week, and 3.8 cm per peek during peak growth in early adulthood. They will be fully formed usually between 10-15 weeks.
What do baby deer look like?
Baby deer are small with reddish-light brown fur and up to 300 while spots in their coat. These spots help them to blend in with their surroundings and protect them from predators. As they age, the spots start to disappear and their coat loses the reddish hue.
Are baby deer born with Antlers?
No, baby deer are not born with antlers. They grow them after they are born. Red deer stag start to grow their antlers from about 10 months old. Roe deer start sooner but have much shorter antlers.
Where do baby deer live?
Baby deer are not born in dens but mothers will tend to move to areas of dense cover and vegetation, away from the herd and safe from predators. Once born, baby deer live with their mothers in forests, meadows, and other grassy areas. They live close to water so they can drink whenever they need to. They are often left alone for long periods of time while their mother gathers food.
What predators do baby deer have to worry about?
Baby deer have to worry about being preyed upon by many predators including wolves, coyotes, and mountain lions. As deer are common across the globe, they have different predators depending on where they live. Deer that live in Africa have to watch out for big cats and crocodiles. Whereas their biggest predator in North America is the black bear.
They also have to watch out for cars when they are crossing roads. Deer are a hunted species also, and when mothers fall foul to hunting, the young are much more vulnerable to predation.
What is the life expectancy of a deer ?
In the wild, a deer will average 3-6 years. It changes from species to species and also depending on local predators and the availability of food. In captivity they have been known to live as long as 15 years.
How Many Teeth Do Baby Deer Have?
Baby deer are born with only 4 teeth, and develop a set of baby teeth which they start to lose over a period from about 6 to 18 months. While they start to grow in their adult teeth gradually from around 6 months, it may take until they are 2 and a half years old for them to have a full set of 32 adult teeth.