Home (Nature of Science) Deer Habitat Grey Fox Habitat Turkey Habitat Skunk Habitat Black Bear Habitat Otter Habitat Red Wolf Habitat Panther Habitat Alligator Habitat Bobcat Habitat

How Do Deer Families Live?

White tailed deer are polygamous animals, which means they have more than one mate in their lives. Males will even have more than one mate within a single mating period. A female deer is generally alone through most of the year, except when accompanied by her fawns. On the other hand, males will stay with other males for most of the year and will only become solitary during mating season to avoid competition.

Male deer are called bucks, female deer are called does, and baby deer are called fawns. The male deer has antlers that come out of bone plates in his head. When the antlers begin to grow, they have a thin layer of felt covering them. Males will scratch their antlers against trees to get rid of the felt.

What Is Their Life Cycle?

Mating season for the white tailed deer takes place between January and February. About seven months after mating, a doe will give birth to one to three fawns. The buck does not stay to help raise the fawns—the doe raises them alone. The fawns are able to walk at birth but will stay by their mother for one to two years; females will often stay with their mother longer than males. Although the young fawns can nibble on some greenery when they are born, their stomachs are not fully developed to properly digest the food. The fawns will have to survive eight weeks on their mother’s milk. After that time, the mother will bring the fawns along while she hunts for food. The doe will hide each fawn in a different location to avoid all of her babies being taken by a predator. Soon, the fawns will start to graze with their mother for the next year.

After that time, males will start to separate from their family to gain their own territories. This usually entails a trip of about six miles to establish a new home range. Once a male is fully grown, he will start to develop antlers during the mating season, known as a rut. During the rut, the males within the same range will fight for mating privileges. Deer generally live to be about 10 years in the wild, but they can survive up to 20 years in captivity.

For more information, see the References and Further Reading page.