Deer give birth in the safest places they can find. They try to find a place away from other deer and other animals. Usually, they will deliver fawns in a quiet, secluded meadow covered in thick vegetation.
Similarly, if their habitat is close to a human population, deer will find a place away from towns or cities to give birth.
As a result, it is very rare to see a deer give birth. It is their intention to have their baby in a safe, unseen place, for the protection of both the mother and the baby.
Why Deer Go to Give Birth in Meadows?
The main reason deer give birth in meadows, woodlands, and other hidden locations is to ensure that their offspring are safe upon birth.
Like other newborn babies, fawns need the protection and care of their mothers for a while before they can take care of themselves.
Thus, it is the responsibility of the doe to see to it that the fawns are well-fed and well-protected from potential predators. Meadows with long grasses and thick bushes keep the young ones hidden from other animals for as long as possible.
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Another reason why deer prefer meadows as the birthplace of choice is privacy. Deer are shy creatures because they are largely unprotected from predators. They have strong flight responses and like to spend their times in private protected areas such as rainforests.
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Furthermore, as herbivores, deer will have access to food when they lounge in a meadow and other vegetation. This means that they will not have to stray too far from their offspring to look for food, as it is readily available.
When the mother goes away to find food, she wants food to be very nearby so she doesn’t leave her fawn.
To gather food, she strategically stations the fawns, if there are multiple, several meters away from each other hidden in the woods to reduce the risk of all being preyed upon at the same time.
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What Deer Look for In a Suitable Birthing Location
Pregnant deer separate themselves from the rest of the herd one to three days before birth to find a suitable birthing location. The best place to give birth should have the following characteristics.
Above anything else, the place should be secure enough to keep fawns safe and hidden from potential predators. The location should have thick and long vegetation to keep the young ones hidden until they are strong enough to take care of themselves.
Having a water source in the area will boost the chances of survival for the deer and her babies.
However, the deer, as intelligent as it is, ensures that the water source is not too close to the birthing place because predators tend to watch for prey near water bodies. Still, the water should not be too far that the fawns will struggle to get there.
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Deer are herbivorous animals, and the long and dense vegetation in the meadows act like food.
This reduces wandering distance which is convenient as it means that the mother will not have to leave the fawns alone for too long, seeing that the mother is responsible for the young ones’ meals the first few weeks after birth.
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How do Deer Give Birth?
Unlike humans, pregnant deer do not receive assistance during labor or delivery. They are usually on their own. Luckily, their birth process is not as complicated or as risky as that of humans.
Normally, deer will experience labor for half an hour and an additional fifteen to thirty minutes for the delivery of the second fawn.
Deer do not like company when giving birth. Thus, a doe separates from the herd one to three days before their due date. During this time, they will be scouting for the safest and most suitable location to deliver their young ones.
Deer prefer a secluded place to have some privacy when undergoing labor. During labor, deer alternate between standing and laying down to cope with the pain and discomfort. During birth, a doe lies on one side and stands upright when its offspring is three-quarter way out.
Usually, the deer will stay put for a few weeks after birth until its fawns are old enough to fend for themselves.
This is to keep them safe and hidden from predators. Deer in captivity will deliver in a shed where they receive care and protection from their caregivers.
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How A Deer Ensures Its Young Ones Are Safe After Birth
1. Hiding the Fawn
As with all mothers, deer want to keep their offspring as safe as possible at all costs. Their main goal throughout their gestation period through birth is to ensure the survival of their young ones.
Fawns cannot walk during the first 24 hours after birth. Meanwhile, the mother has to go look for food. So, the doe hides the fawns in a bush or in long grasses where predators can’t easily discover them.
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2. Licking the Fawn
Another precaution to keep the young ones safe is licking them immediately after birth and eating the afterbirth.
The reason deer do this is to eliminate smell and reduce the likelihood of the helpless fawns being discovered by predators that use the sense of smell to hunt.
The protective nature of mother deer starts from the breeding period. For one, during mating, deer will choose the strongest male to mate with to increase the chances of offspring surviving. In addition, deer ensure that they carry their offspring to term – 10 months- so that they are born ready to take on the world.
In essence, does have to be strategic to ensure the safety and health of their newly borns. Usually, they go back to the same place whenever they need to give birth if it is still suitable.
Deer go to give birth in a quiet, secluded place that is covered in long grass or thick vegetation. Birth-giving is a solitary experience for deer, and they intend to keep their offspring as safe and healthy as possible.
Meadows with long grass and thick vegetation keep fawns hidden from potential predators. They also provide privacy, food, and water.
Joe is a freelance writer for FaunaFacts. Joe has written extensively about snakes for the site, but also contributes content about a range of animals.