How Many Babies Can a Deer Have?

How many fawns can a doe have in her lifetime? The number of offspring a deer can have during their lifetime may surprise you, considering their short lifespan. The average deer only lives to be an average of about 12 years old. 

However, during this short time, a doe can have up to 25 deer throughout its lifetime. She can have her first fawn within the first year of her life. Deer normally yield two fawns born after each pregnancy, and each birthing event happens once per year. 

Deer are rare because more than one male mates with a female during their annual mating season. This takes place during the fall season of each year.

The gestation period for deer is about seven months. She will give birth during the spring and early summer, normally to only one deer when she first starts producing. However, it’s not uncommon for does to give birth to litters of two and three offspring as time goes on.

Like any other species, many factors affect how many fawns a doe will have in her lifetime. Let’s take a closer look at what some of these factors can be.

Factors That Influence Fawns Born

Many factors can affect the mating habits of deer. These factors can be natural or influenced by outside sources.

Depending on the part of the world where certain species of deer live, the mating seasons and their habits can change. First, we will examine some of the natural factors like habitat quality that influence the mating habits of deer.

Natural Habitat Factors that Influence the Birth of Deer Fawns

Normally fawning happens in early May and into the early summer months over most northern territories where deer exist. In the southern portion of the United States, the birthing season of white tailed deer fawns is much later in places like Florida and Alabama because of the warmer temperatures influenced by the Gulf of Mexico.

Fawns must be born at precisely the right time. In far northern areas, if a fawn is born too early, the extreme cold may claim the lives of many offspring. However, when a fawn is born too late, it may not have time to prepare for the coming winter of the next year. Fawns need time to fully mature for the next winter season before they can handle extreme conditions.

The first few weeks are vital in the life of a fawn. Doe milk is extremely rich in protein and fat. Because of this, a newborn fawn will gain the majority of their weight within the first couple of weeks of their lives.

A doe needs a considerable period of uninterrupted nursing for a fawn to receive the proper nutrients needed to develop properly. If outside influences such as a wild animal disrupt this process, the chances of the fawn surviving can be lowered substantially.

Injured fawns and other babies with nutrition issues will almost certainly never make it through their first winter.

Outside Factors that Influence the Birth of Deer Fawns

Several outside factors may influence the mating and birthing habits of female deer. A rising population in any area can have a substantial effect on the fawning process of a doe.

When an area steadily increases in population and more construction takes place, this disperses a large portion of the deer population. Male deer are normally the first to leave an area, which has a specific outcome on female deer’s mating and birthing process.

The rapid exit of the buck population not only lowers the overall number of deer over subsequent seasons but the chances of twin and triplet births are lowered as well. Doe will be more likely to give birth to just one fawn in these situations. There will be more on this later. 

The Quality Deer Management Association monitors things like the growth or decline of deer population because of things like construction and hunting habits. The QDMA helps to maintain healthy breeding areas for large populations of deer. Fawn rehabilitation, and maintaining healthy areas for one or two fawns to age safely in a controlled environment is one of their specialties. 

Deer Fawn and Mother Birthing Habits

One unique habit of a doe after giving birth is the fact that she may leave her two fawns to fend for themselves. This isn’t the property of an irresponsible mother; it’s actually a technique the doe uses to divert the attention of lurking predators.

It’s been reported that a doe may lie in a nearby area for weeks at a time, watching for potential predators creeping up on their young. When a dangerous situation arises, the doe may make themselves noticed in an effort to divert attention away from their babies.

There have been reports that a doe leaves no scent, therefore making it impossible to attract potential predators to their young. However, the sheer number of attacks that result in an injured fawn or worse is enough to dispel these rumors. 

A doe will also repeatedly lick the coat of their young fawns soon after they are born. The reason for this excessive habit is to manifest two separate protective results.

The licking helps take the potential scent away from the offspring. Alternatively, it helps their coat show camouflage spots, making it hard for a predator to spot the fawn.

How Often Will A Mother Deer Have Twin Fawns or Triplet Fawns?

The answer to this question weighs heavily on the habitat quality that the doe gives birth in. If the area is rich in potential feeding options and very well-spaced, the chances of giving birth to twins and triplets can grow substantially.

Normally, the odds of a doe giving birth to two fawns or triplets is around 20%. Once she gives birth to her first set, the chances of birthing more grow exponentially with each subsequent mating season.

Another unique property of the fawning process of a doe is the fact that more than one buck can sire a set of twins or triplets. Numerous reports have shown that 25% of twin and triplet fawn births are the result of different fathers. One fawn may have one buck as a father, while the other has an entirely different buck they were bred from. This is why the presence of a higher number of bucks in an area often leads to higher numbers of twins and triplets and the birth of more fawns.

Quelling Rumors Regarding the Scent of a Doe

As we mentioned earlier, there have been reports of a doe not giving off a scent, especially when they are pregnant. However, many natural occurrences have proven this to be false.

Various trail-cams filmed wolves following a doe back to the area where her babies are resting. Wolves have often been caught on camera trailing a pregnant doe and snatching the unborn fawn directly from her birth canal.

Because of a wolf’s uncanny sense of smell, the only thing that can explain these occurrences is the existence of a scent from the pregnant doe.

It’s been speculated that the reason a doe lies in hiding 90% of the time is that she knows her scent is well-picked up by predators of various types. This would explain the odd abandonment behavior that normally doesn’t exist between other species of animals.

Takeaway on Female Deer and Their Fawns

The mating and birth habits of female deer are incredibly interesting and unique compared to other animal species. Deer numbers are high, but it can be tough to obtain scientific data regarding them because of how often they move because of disturbances to their habitats. There is also a growing shortage of natural resources for deer populations. It’s vital that we preserve a high quality habitat for these animals if we are to continue to learn intriguing new facts regarding their mating process. 

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