Mule deer – Odocoileus hemionus

Mule deer – Odocoileus hemionus

Mule deer – Odocoileus hemionus

The mule deer is a deer indigenous to western North America; it is named for its ears, which are large like those of the mule. There are believed to be several subspecies, including the black-tailed deer.

The mule deer’s tail is black-tipped, the antlers are bifurcated; they “fork” as they grow. Each spring, a buck’s antlers start to regrow almost immediately after the old antlers are shed. Shedding typically takes place in mid-February, with variations occurring by locale. Although capable of running, mule deer are often seen stotting (also called pronking), with all four feet coming down together.

The mule deer is the larger of the two Odocoileus species on average, with a height of 80 to 106 cm at the shoulders and a nose-to-tail length ranging from 1.2 to 2.1 m. Of this, the tail may comprise 11.6 to 23 cm. Adult male deer normally weigh 55 to 150 kg. Female deer are rather smaller and typically weigh from 43 to 90 kg.

The mating season usually begins in the fall as does go into estrus for a period of a few days and males become more aggressive, competing for mates. The gestation period is about 190 to 200 days, with fawns born in the spring, staying with their mothers during the summer and being weaned in the fall after about 60 to 75 days. Mule deer females usually give birth to two fawns.

Besides humans, the three leading predators of mule deer are coyotes, gray wolves, and cougars.

Mule deers mostly eat plants, shrubs and grasses. They have also been known to eat ricegrass, gramagrass, bromegrass, and needlegrass