The mule deer can be found from western regions of North America from coastal islands of Alaska, all the way down to the West Coast to southern Baja Mexico and from the northern Mexico, up throughout the Great Plains to central and western Canada and even in the southern Yukon Territory. They get around. They prefer arid, open, rocky areas. The primary threats to these deer are habitat loss, poaching, traffic accident,s and diseases – like the “zombie deer disease”. More on that below. These deer are migratory, hence their wide spread distribution.
First the Stats…
Scientific name: Odocoileus hemionus
Weight: Up to 280 lbs.
Length: 7 feet
Height: 3.5 feet
Lifespan: Up to 20 years
Now on to the Facts!
1.) They’ve earned their namesake due to the size of their ears, which are as large as a mule’s.
2.) Their primary diet consists of fairy duster, mesquite leaves and beans, cat claw, jojoba, buck bush, and other grasses & shrubs.
3.) These deer don’t have any front teeth; only a hard pallet.
4.) Mule deer are both crepuscular and nocturnal, depending on the time of year.
But wait, there’s more on the mule deer!
6.) They have large eyes that sit on either side of their head and this gives them 310° vision. Their night vision is a little better than ours but they aren’t able to see color.
7.) The sense of smell on a mule deer is approximately 1,000 times greater than ours. This helps them detect predators.
Did you know…?
These deer are suseptable to chronic wasting disease; aka “zombie deer disease”. This disease causes massive weight loss or “wasting”, listlessness, stumbling, and other neurological symptoms. There are no treatments or vaccines available and some believe that this disease may be transmittable to humans who eat the infected meat!
8.) “Mules” can detect water up to 2 feet underground!
9.) Males will rut during breeding season and the largest deer with the largest antlers gets the girls.
10.) Females typically birth 2 fawns, although first time moms often only have 1 fawn.