- Every Tuesday, Mongabay brings you a new episode of Candid Animal Cam, our show featuring animals caught on camera traps around the world and hosted by Romi Castagnino, our writer and conservation scientist.
Camera traps bring you closer to the secretive natural world and are an important conservation tool to study wildlife. This week we’re meeting the smallest members of the North American deer family: the white-tailed deer.
A white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) is a medium-sized mammal that lives in all of the Americas, from Canada to Peru and Bolivia in the south. It gets its name from the white hair on the underside of the tail. When the deer senses danger, it raises its tail showing the white patch. This is called ‘flagging’. Whitetails are polygynous, and during the mating season bucks fight each other for the right to mate with the does in the area. As a general rule, a female in her initial year of breeding will usually give birth to one fawn, however, in the following years, she will more likely have twins. Fawns have spotted coats that provide them with natural camouflage, which keeps them safe from predators.
White-tailed deer can live up to 14 years in captivity but in the wild, they usually don’t make it to that age because of disease, hunting, and car collisions. They usually live around 4 to 5 years. They are listed as Least Concern by the IUCN. Watch the video to learn more about this species!
Special thanks to Dr. Onja Razafindratsima, an ecologist and Assistant Professor at the University of California, Berkeley. The project for which the footage was taken seeks to determine the community of animals (mammals and birds) that disperse the seeds of the trees and shrubs at the Oak Lake Field Station in South Dakota; as part of a larger project aimed at investigating the impacts of animal seed dispersers on plant communities in the heterogeneous landscape of South Dakota. The team set-up camera traps to overlook fruit-bearing branches and/or the area beneath the plant to collect information on the animal visitors consuming fruits. The pictures/videos are used to identify the animal species and examine its seed-handling behavior to classify it as a seed disperser or seed predator.
Banner photo: camera trap photo of white-tailed deer.