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Mule Deer

Mule deer are brownish-gray in color with big ears (9 inches or so) like a mule's, and a white rump patch. Only the males grow antlers, which are shed each spring and regrown during the summer and fall. The main part of the antlers diverges into 2 branches, each bearing 2 or more tines.

Natural History

Mule deer are widespread throughout the desert, wherever there is sufficient vegetation for food and cover. They may make elevational migrations in the summer and winter. Mule deer browse on mesquite leaves and beans, catclaw (thank goodness someone eats that stuff), jojoba, buckbrush and fairy duster and graze on a variety of grasses.

The ears of a mule deer constantly swivel around like antenna dishes, to detect sounds of approaching predators.

Mule deer breed in December and January and the one or two fawns are born the next summer (about a 7 month gestation). The does often move higher onto mountain tops to give birth to keep the fawn away from coyotes. The fawns are able to walk and run within a few days of birth. They usually stay with the mother until the next year. Many deer spend their entire lives within a 1-2 mile home range (like the one in the photo which lives in Zion NP). The main predators of adult mule deer are mountain lions.

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