You may come across various different types of deer while out and about in the wilderness. From white tailed deer to the elk, and everything in-between, few species are as interesting, in terms of appearance, as the mule deer.
Mule Deer Information
Known scientifically as the Odocoileus Hemionus, the mule deer is a large one, and its appearance really varies. Overall however, they can be identified not only by their ears, but also by the ever-changing color of their coat.
Colors vary from a light grey to a dark grey, from a light brown to a lush dark brown and some are even a brownish red lush color. Their color depends on their surroundings and the also season. Under the jaw you will also see a white or even yellowish patch of fur. Along with those aforementioned large ears, which can be pointy and very protruding from the head you can see why these features make its appearance very interesting.
The size is quite large. In fact, the mule deer can be larger than the size of a grown man in cases. Their weight can be anywhere from 95 – 330lb, however the general average is around the 200lb mark. Again, this is over the weight of a grown adult male, so you can get an idea of how big and heavy this type of deer can be.
The average lifespan is around 10 years. In addition, the male has large antlers, which are shed and re-grown every year, just in time for breeding season.
They are a placid species, especially when compared to the sometimes more aggressive elk species. In fact, it isn’t uncommon for a male mule deer to become quite confrontational with other males during the mating season. However, this is the same for every male species of any animal!
You can find them across the USA and Canada. However, they are more prominent in areas such as the Dakotas, Nebraska, Washington, Kansas, and in the western portions of Texas. In these areas you are much more likely to see them in forested areas, meadows, and in thick vegetation. They can also be spotted in the alpine meadows.
Deer are herbivores, which means they like to eat plants. This particular type of deer’s diet is particularly partial to nuts, corn, trees, twigs, and general plants. For that reason, thick vegetation areas are home to this animal.
If you want to spot one, you have to find the best times. In this case, they are mostly likely to be seen wandering around during the early mornings and early evenings. The female is much more elusive, however not impossible to spot, especially out of mating season. This is when they are usually seen totally separate from the males.
The movement of a mule deer is probably what makes it stand apart from other types, aside from their iconic ears. They don’t tend to like running, vs. white-tailed deer which can sprint at speed over short periods of time. Instead, this animal leaps.
However, this doesn’t hinder their speed at all, because they can reach up to 45mph when leaping over an intense, short period of time. The leap is with all four legs, which they bring up to meet together in mid-air, and these leaps can be as large as 8 yards in distance!
This helps them cover a large amount of ground fast, when running from predators and other threats. This movement is quite interesting to see, and surely makes a refreshing change from the constant fast running you see from other mammals of this type.
This leaping motion, as well as the large, protruding ears, give them a very different look and movement to other species, and helps them stand out. If you’ve ever seen one, you will understand how interesting they truly are!
More About This Interesting Animal
So, we know that mule deer are iconic in terms of how they look, but that isn’t just about the pointed, protruding ears that they are known for. Their ever-changing coat color varies, as well as the area in which they are sited. The lush red is one of the most interesting shades to see. However, the most common color you will see on their coats is a grey/brown mix hue.
When one feels threatened, they will leap away from you fast. As we mentioned, this is not a run or a sprint, but a very interesting leaping motion. This means you will see them pop into the air fast, and then back down again, bringing all four hooves together whilst in mid-air. While you would think that a sprint is more effective in terms of speed, this leaping motion actually helps make them one of the fastest common species around.
This type of deer is also quite prevalent over the USA, and in particular in the state of Washington. One can spot them in thick vegetation and shrubbery areas. The mule deer enjoys munching on the various types of plant food found in these parts. In fact, one might see one as well in alpine valleys during the colder weather of winter.
Have you had an experience with one of these animals before? How did you identify the species first? Most people notice the ears first of all, and this is probably what makes them stand out above everything else.
The movement is of course the second thing, but this is only ever seen when the animal feels threatened and runs. When you do spot one of these magnificent creatures you will see for yourself how unique they really are!