Fun Key Deer Facts For Kids | Kidadl


Fun Key Deer Facts For Kids

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Everyone likes reading about small, adorable deer! If that sounds like you as well, then you will love reading about the Key Deer. Protected by the National Key deer Refuge, Florida. Key Deer is the only deer species native to the United States. As the name suggests, they re only found in Lower Keys, which is why they are also called Florida Key deer, or the Florida Keys. This hardy species has made its home in a variety of habitat locations, such as Pine rocklands, marsh waters, forests, and places with other fish and wildlife.

However, while they may be some of the most adorable residents of the Florida Keys, the Florida Key deer is in dire need of conservation. The sad fact about the Key deer is that their habitat overlaps with that of human residences and highways. As a result, not only have they lost most of their habitat, they are also continually threatened by hunting, car accidents, encounters with dogs and other animals.

So, if you want to know all the fun facts about the Florida Key deer, as well other Florida Key deer facts, read on! Also, if you enjoy this article, do check out the very interesting deer and Alpine ibex facts too!

Fun Key Deer Facts For Kids

What do they prey on?

Mangroves, thatch palm berries

What do they eat?


Average litter size?


How much do they weigh?

55 - 75 lb

How long are they?


How tall are they?

24-32 in

What do they look like?

Brown, white

Skin Type


What were their main threats?

Humans, Dogs, Fences

What is their conservation status?

Critically endangered

Where you'll find them?

Mangroves, Pine Forests, Grasslands., Freshwater Wetlands


Sugarloaf Key To Bahia Honda Key









Key Deer Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Key deer?

The Key deer (Odocoileus virginianus clavium) is a type of deer and the smallest subspecies of the White tailed deer. These White tailed deer migrated to Lower Keys from the mainland.

What class of animal does a Key deer belong to?

The Key deer belongs to the mammal class. They belong to the one third of US fish and wildlife that run the risk of extinction in the coming 100 years.

How many Key deers are there in the world?

It is estimated that there are less than 1000 Key deer in the world. Due to loss of habitat, and inadequate conservation efforts in the past, the population of this endangered species has dwindled to these low numbers and they now only live in Key deer range.

Where does a Key deer live?

Though the Key deer has a very limited habitat, you can see it living in various types of locations, such as the woods, hardwood hammocks, pine rocklands, and freshwater wetlands. They are a very hardy species, and can be even seen swimming across water to reach islands with higher fresh water content.  

What is a Key deer's habitat?

They used to live amongst 20-25 islands in Lower Florida Keys. Now their habitat has been reduced to islands between Sugarloaf Key to Bahia Honda Key.

Who do Key deers live with?

The Key deer is highly sociable as a species, and live in large flocks. They are even friendly with humans. This has resulted in issues for them, as their frequent encounters with humans in Florida Keys, has resulted in at least 50 of them dying every year (which forms up to 70% of their mortality rate).

How long does a Key deer live?

The Key deer can live anywhere between seven to nine years. Provided they spend most of their time in well-watered and vegetative islands like the Big Pine Key, which is a government certified Key Deer refuge.

How do they reproduce?

Though they reproduce all year long, the mating season really picks up around October to December. They are not monogamous, and multiple males and females will breed together. Children start walking and moving within a couple hours of being born, and become adults in approximately two years.

What is their conservation status?

According to the IUCN  Red List, the Key deer is critically endangered. When they had arrived on the islands, they had been hunted by Native Americans, and their population had dwindled down to 20-25 members only.

Key Deer Fun Facts

What do Key deers look like?

Florida Key deer is in dire need of conservation

They look very similar to the white tailed deer in almost all aspects. They have long legs, a stout body, with small, pointed ears. Males have antlers which they shed in March every year, but will start to  regrow them by June. They have black hooves and nose, and a straight, well-defined snout. The female  deer (Key) are relatively smaller, and the male deer (Key) are usually larger. They are smaller than any other species of white tailed deer. The reason they are so small, is because a smaller body is more tolerant towards salt-water, and easier to survive in a location like Florida Keys and Big Pine Key.

How cute are they?

The Key deer is the smallest subspecies of the white tailed deer, and are the cutest little deer you might ever meet! They are also very friendly with humans, which means you can easily see one wandering around in Lower Keys areas. However, do not touch and pet them, no matter how cute they are! This might invite a fine, or worse, jail time, since doing so is illegal.

How do they communicate?

The Key deer usually communicate with low calls to attract mates. Other than that, the Key deer only communicate through body language such as ears, stamping their hooves, turning their tail, and more.

How big is a Key deer?

They Key deer can be up to 32 inches tall up till their shoulder and weigh between 55-75 lb. This makes them almost four times as small as the Alaskan Moose, which is up to 7 feet tall. This weight and size also makes them moderately smaller than any other species of deer, whether it be in the Key deer Refuge, or elsewhere.

How fast can a Key deer run?

The Key deer is not a particularly fast runner, but they have strong legs, and are excellent swimmers. This is because they have no natural predators in the area, and are so friendly with humans that they do not perceive people as a threat. Therefore, they have no need to run fast.

How much does a Key deer weigh?

The Key deer weighs between 55-75 lb.

What are their male and female names of the species?

The male Key deer is called a buck, whereas a female Key deer is called a doe.

What would you call a baby Key deer?

You can call a baby Key deer a fawn.

What do they eat?

The Key deer can feed on up to 150 different types of plants, but their favorite, and largest portion of their diet is made up of mangroves, and thatch palm berries. This is because these are the most amply available around, and fulfil their nutritional requirements the best.

Are they aggressive?

No, they are not an aggressive species at all. The Key deer is so friendly, that the US government has to issue specific rules about not people interacting with them. However, during breeding season, they can get a little territorial. This had especially become a problem for the Island called Big Pine Key. Big Pine Key had one of the highest supply of fresh water and fruit, resulting in it becoming a Key Deer favorite. As a result of this, in the August of 2019, the Big Pine Key saw every single member of the Key Deer family living there.

Would they make a good pet?

No. Even though the Key deer are a very friendly species, and have no fear of humans, they are a highly endangered species, and therefore, illegal to have as pets. Though they are a very hardy species, living in the relatively harsh one rocklands, the U.S Fish Wildlife Service heavily fines, and even jails offenders who try to domesticate the Key deer.

Did you know...

The Key deer did not always live in Lower Florida Keys. They had travelled over a mainland bridge, in an event called the Wisconsin Glatiation. Since then, they used to live on islands, which gives the Key deer population their impeccable ability to swim across mangroves and marshes.

Why are Key deers endangered?

There are less than 1000 Key deer left. Initially, they had been endangered due to excessive hunting. However, in the 1950s, the National Key Deer Refuge, Florida was established in 1953. This was when the population of the Key deer was less than 30. Over the years, their population has been increasing. However, there is still a lot of work to be done  in terms of conservation to get Key Deer out of their status as endangered species.

The Key deer and humans

The Key deer population living in the wild and humans have a very fraught relationship. The Key deer have no fear of humans. However, it is this friendliness that makes them victim to dog attacks, car-to-deer collisions, and other human encounters that result in their untimely death. Therefore, illegal feeding, petting, letting them into one's homes or gardens, is not allowed.

Highway US1, where the Key Deer get hit the most often, also has declared it illegal to drive in that area with  a speed more than 10mph.  Offenders who run over the deer (Key) can get fined up to 10,000 dollars by the U.S Fish Wildlife service.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals including reindeer, or Caribou facts.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our deer coloring pages.

With a Master's in Philosophy from the prestigious University of Dublin, Devangana likes to write thought-provoking content. She has vast copywriting experience and previously worked for The Career Coach in Dublin. Devanga also possesses computer skills and is constantly looking to boost her writing with courses from the universities of Berkeley, Yale, and Harvard in the United States, as well as Ashoka University, India. Devangana was also honored at the University of Delhi when she undertook her Bachelor's Degree in English and edited her student paper. She was social media head for the global youth, the literacy society president, and the student president.

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