How do white-tailed deer protect themselves?


Quick Answer

The primary way that white-tailed deer protect themselves when threatened is through fleeing, and they can run up to 30 miles per hour with great agility. White-tailed deer can jump very well and are also good swimmers, giving them several options for evading predators. They spot predators early, with large, sensitive ears and side-facing, motion-sensitive eyes.

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Full Answer

White-tailed deer are social animals, gathering in herds, particularly during winter, which is also their mating season. When one animal's keen senses alert it to danger, it alerts other deer by snorting and stomping. These deer also often flag, raising their white tails and showing their white underside. This helps deer keep track of each other while running, particularly young deer following their mothers. Deer also rely on concealment, particularly while resting. They shelter beneath trees, and deer young hide for long periods of time, laying as low as possible while their mothers feed.

White-tailed deer fight predators only when absolutely necessary. Female deer and young deer can kick and flail their hooves, which are sharp and deliver blunt-force injuries and cuts. Around the breeding season, adult males also have antlers that are used for defense, but their primary protection is their running ability.

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