Nothing is cuter than a baby fawn. Illinois school children voted the Whitetail Deer their favorite animal in 1980, joining ten other states in their love for this gentle wild animal. Nothing is cuter unless you are a new mom or dad or grandparent. It is a known fact that your new human baby’s cuteness can’t be beat. As fellow mammals we have much in common with Whitetail Deer, yet we are definitely distinct from them as well. Different but same.
No one ever seems to talk about the fact that herbivore mammals begin their life craving dairy. Vegan only after their first five months of life White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) are then weaned from their mothers, about the same time their white spots molt away. Vegan persons also nurse their infants, believing that human milk is for humans and cow milk is for cows. When an infant is lactose intolerant then soy milk formulas are used for babies. Different but same.
Natural defenses are often the best defenses. Fawns are born without scent so predators cannot easily smell them. A mother doe will stay away from her fawn for their first few days of life to keep her scent off of them. Human nurturing instincts foster similar close observations, baby bassinets are often in the master bedroom for this very reason. But I cannot imagine a mother purposely keeping a distance even if her baby were still in her vision. Contact is a human necessity between mother and baby. And anyone who’s held a baby knows how wonderful their scent (most of the time). The constant closeness of mother and baby is the primary deterrent from stranger danger. Many white spots on a reddish brown silky fur coat are the second line of defense from predators for fawn. Their spotty coat easily blends into a field of dappled colors and spotty patches of sunlight through a forest. Different but same.
Birthrates for fawns do not rise nine months after a power outage or end of war; they are consistently born between late April and early July. The twins in these images were born at the end of this season. A seven month gestation period is less for fawn than baby, but once born their development is swift reaching adulthood in their first year. 25% of does are able to give birth when one year old. Fawns weigh between four and eight pounds when born and within eight months weigh in between seventy to eighty five pounds. That’s a lot of nursing and vegetables. Most mothers I know would not agree such rapid passage through their child’s stages of development, except perhaps for the terrible twos. And fawns do not need new clothes and shoes as they constantly grow larger. Different but same.
I thank this young mother doe for allowing me to linger and photograph her and her young twins yesterday. It was truly difficult for me to return home to my empty nest! I wonder….different but same?
Great sites for more information on Whitetail Deer fawn: