Deer Gestation Period: When And How Do Baby Deer Start To 'Doe' Up?

Christian Mba
Nov 02, 2023 By Christian Mba
Originally Published on Jan 11, 2022
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Whitetail deer are known to breed in their second year

The process of reproduction is responsible for new life on Earth.

The gestation period refers to the time when, after fertilization, the embryo starts growing and gradually develops into the fetus until it is born. The gestation period for animals differs from one kind of animal to another.

While smaller animals have shorter gestation periods, larger animals have longer gestation periods. The gestation period of rabbits usually takes around 30 days, but for elephants, it takes around 18-22 months. As for deer, it usually takes around 200-205 days, with whitetail deer requiring around 198 days of gestation on average.

Deer are seasonal breeders, so they breed every year with the change in the seasons. Though the mating time for deer is usually during autumn, in some cases of delayed pregnancy or early pregnancy, a deer can be seen pregnant in July.

After reading this article, you can also read about do deer eat acorns and how long do deer live.

What is the whitetail deer gestation period?

The gestation period for deer differs from species to species. The gestation period for a whitetail deer is not the same as that of a reindeer. Let's find out about the gestation period of whitetail deer.

Normally for deer, the gestation period takes 200-205 days on average. Different species have different time periods of gestation. However, the duration is more or less similar and falls under the same range. For whitetail deer or white-tailed deer, aka Odocoileus virginianus, the gestation period is six and a half months or 198 days on average.

Whitetail deer are known to breed in their second year. The average age at which this species attains sexual maturity is around a year and a half.

However, females are also known to mate as early as seven months of age.

This species of deer or bucks are polygamous animals, and they have multiple mating partners; however, they are also known to form close relationships with single individuals. The mating season reaches a peak during November as the estrus cycle of the female fallow deer reaches its peak, and it continues from October to December.

During the breeding season, a female deer usually gives birth to twins or two fawns.

In some cases, three to four fawns are often born among this species that can be found in both the northern and southern hemispheres of the planet. If no pregnancy took place after the first cycle, then the female prepares itself for the second estrus cycle.

Unlike other baby animals, fawns of a fallow deer, elk, or that of a white-tailed deer species can walk and move on their own just a couple of days after birth.

How many times a year do deer have babies?

Unlike humans, the population of a herd of deer, elk, or bucks is considerably large as these animals produce a large number of babies via reproduction to maintain the population of their species. Let's learn the number of fawns that a mother deer gives birth to during pregnancy.

In general, deer produce a couple of fawns. The same case is seen everywhere on the planet, be it in America or in the southern hemisphere.

During the first reproductive period, the mother usually produces a single fawn. Reproduction is mainly observed during the onset of winter. The estrus period, which is a vital part of the reproductive process for females, starts during the fall season and can be observed in August and reaches its peak during November.

Some animals of the deer species are known to begin the process of breeding during summer months like June, but that is quite rare. As males and females start growing older, the mother deer can produce more than two or three fawns during the pregnancy period.

These little fawns grow rapidly, and the herd guides them in terms of feeding and fleeing from predators during the spring, summer, and fall.

Factors Affecting The Deer Gestation Period

Every life is precious on Earth, be that of animals or that of human life. For deer, certain factors play a affect the pregnancy of a deer.

The number of deer individuals present in the group of a species of deer is ever-changing and is never constant. This ever-changing nature among male, female, and young ones is determined by numerous factors.

These essential factors are the availability of food, the nature and size of the mother deer, the social status of the mother deer in the herd, and the ratio of males to females present in the group.

Food is one of the most important factors affecting a deer's pregnancy. If proper food is found in the habitat of a mule deer, an elk, or a whitetail deer, then the gestation period is greatly improved.

The breeding process begins early, and it also facilitates the way for the process of parturition. Conversely, poor nutrition during gestation is responsible for delayed parturition.

Another factor is the body mass of female deer, elk, or mule deer. If an optimum body length and body mass is obtained, then the breeding process becomes much easier, and thus not many complications are observed during gestation.

In America and other parts of the world, food is very limited during early spring and summer, along with the rut period where climatic conditions make it very difficult to obtain food, thereby creating opportunities for delaying gestation.

The age of the mother is responsible for the early or late birth of a male deer or that of a doe. As older female deer ovulate early, the breeding season begins earlier, while for a young doe it may be delayed.

Lastly comes the factor of social status.

An aged doe with higher status in the group gets the opportunity to breed earlier than that of a young doe. Early breeding followed by an early gestation period and the birth of fawns can also be seen in a group where there is an abundance of male deer.

Some animals of the deer species are known

When is the deer breeding season?

The gestation period is one of the most important phases in the life of an animal. It marks the growth of the baby inside the mother. Let's check out some cool facts on the breeding period of deer.

The season of mating among animals is very important as it leads to the birth of young animals. The season for breeding differs from animal to animal and from species to species, and it also varies from one location to another.

For a mule deer or a whitetail deer, the mating time will begin during the months of October to December. After the process of mating between males and females, the gestation period marks the development of the young growing inside the pregnant doe.

What happens to the female before mating?

The process of bringing new life to the planet is special, and in doing so, the mother undergoes certain physiological and hormonal changes in the body.

The cycle of estrus begins when the production of photoperiod is decreased in the body. Other female hormones like estrogen and progesterone function in different ways to support the estrus cycle.

Progesterone levels decrease while the level of estrogen increases. The cycle occurs a few times and stops once breeding takes place successfully and the doe becomes pregnant. Often the cycle continues until spring, usually during the month of March for a mule deer or for a whitetail deer.

How many fawns can a doe have in its lifetime?

Animals can give birth to a large number of babies in their entire lifetime, and deer are no exception. Let's find out the number of fawns a doe can have in its entire life.

It is extremely difficult to give an exact number of fawns that a doe can give birth to in its lifetime.

However, we can make an assumption based on the number of fawns that are born with the total number of pregnancies that a doe can have. In general, starting from the second pregnancy, deer can give birth to two or more fawns while only a single young fawn is born during the first pregnancy.

Normally a deer can have around 15 pregnancies, and therefore we can assume that a doe can give birth to around 30-40 fawns during its entire lifetime.

Why are deer seasonal breeders?

There are animals that breed annually; others breed every other year, while some other species breed seasonally. The breeding process is dependent on a number of factors.

For deer, the triggering point for mating is the change in the climate and the weather. Factors that are responsible for the change in climatic conditions also have an effect on the physiological attributes of animals.

Changes in the length of days, rainfall, and the weather are largely responsible for triggering the LHRH, aka the luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone, which along with melatonin is responsible for starting the cycle of birth.

How can you tell if a doe is pregnant?

For a whitetail deer, it is very easy to identify a pregnant one due to changes in the physiological attributes of the body.

The easiest way to know if a deer is pregnant is by looking at the belly of the deer. A pregnant deer will have a noticeably large belly.

This is best observed during the months post-breeding time. Other clues include the doe resting more than normal and consuming more food than normal to sustain the baby deer growing inside the doe's body.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for deer gestation period then why not take a look at do deer hibernate or mule deer facts.

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Written by Christian Mba

Bachelor of Science specializing in Computer Science

Christian Mba picture

Christian MbaBachelor of Science specializing in Computer Science

Christian Mba is an experienced blogger and content writer with over a decade of experience. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from Nigeria and has a keen interest in Python programming. Along with his writing and blogging expertise, he is also an SEO specialist with more than six years of experience. Chris, as he is commonly known, has a passion for music and enjoys playing the piano.

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