The white-tailed deer is characterized by the white underside of its tail and belly and reddish-brown coat. The deer holds its distinctive tail up when it senses danger, acting as a signal for the herd to flee. The white tail is also useful as a flag, which fawns can easily follow.
The white-tailed deer is the smallest species of the deer family in North America, typically growing between 6 and 7 feet in length and weighing from 110 to 300 pounds. Despite its relatively small size, the white-tailed deer is fleet of foot. It depends largely on its speed to escape predators. It not only runs up to 30 mph but can jump up to 10 feet high and 30 feet in length.
The male white-tailed deer has prominent antlers in the summer and fall, but loses them during the winter. The antlers regrow each year. It uses its antlers to fight with other deer during the mating season. The female deer's pregnancy lasts approximately seven months, and it gives birth in the late spring. As a fawn, the deer has a reddish coat with white spots, which helps camouflage it in the woods.
The white-tailed deer ranges throughout North and Central America, living in both grasslands and forests. It spends the hottest part of the year in grasslands and meadows, migrating to forests during winter for shelter and food. It lives on plants, depending on leaves, grass, corn, fruit and even fungi to survive.
Although the population is healthy as of 2014 and overpopulation is an issue in some areas, there was a time when this animal was endangered because of unrestricted hunting. Game management and hunting laws have helped to increase the population.