Are you sick of me talking about tendinitis yet? Well I sure am. No good news on that front at this point, but I’ve been trying to put my idle time to good use. Some of my favorite things (that I don’t talk about much around here for no particular reason) are drawing and watching documentaries, especially documentaries about animals. I’m sure (I hope!) there are some fellow nerds out there who will appreciate a post series like this, so in the spirit of trying new things and not losing my my mind on account of stupid wrist injuries, I present to you: Drawings & Documentaries – a series where I share facts, photos, and sketches inspired by animals.
This documentary, The Private Life of Deer, (currently streaming on Netflix) was particularly fascinating to me because I live in an area with a high white-tail deer population, but I never really went out of my way to learn anything about them. Up until recently the extent of my deer knowledge included: they’re cute, they eat my neighbor’s bushes into phallic shapes (highly amusing to me, not so much to my neighbor), and they must not be very intelligent on account of their habits in and around major roads. Well Friends, allow me to enlighten you on my newly expanded knowledge of white-tail deer! …oh, and share a peek at a sketch that will eventually become a new Spoonflower fabric.
1.) White-tail deer are nearly blind by human standards, all they really see are shapes and silhouettes. Because of their poor eyesight, deer have finely tuned hearing and a nose with more olfactory receptors than a Bloodhound (deer have 300 million olfactory receptors, humans only have 5 million!).
2.) Deer communicate with each other by using ear and tail movements (much like dogs do) and by stomping the ground to alert other deer when they sense danger. They also have various vocal call sounds.
3.) Deer populations actually thrive in areas of deforestation and urban sprawl. With an abundance of food, and no real predators besides motor vehicles, the deer population in North America has risen from less than one million a century ago, to over 100 million today. They prefer suburban neighborhoods that border farmland and forest.
4.) Deer eat 600 different species of plants including a variety of grasses, fruits, acorns, twigs, and even poison ivy. They eat around 7lbs of food a day and have a four-chambered stomach just like cows. Deer lie down after a meal in order to regurgitate and re-chew their food, also like cows do.
5.) Deer can easily jump a fence that’s 6 or 8 feet tall, making it difficult for people to protect gardens and yards.
6.) Cayuga Heights, NY has an estimated 100 deer per square mile. The “ideal” (according to wildlife biologists in the area) would be more like 5 deer per square mile.
7.) Deer have better night vision than humans do because they have more rods than cones in the eye which allows more light to filter through. The downside of this is the “deer in the headlights” affect where deer can literally freeze up in the middle of the road due to sensory overload on the eyes. Their brain can actually lock down for several minutes in this situation, causing a type of paralysis.
8.) Aside from the “deer in the headlights” issue, deer are actually highly intelligent and adapt very quickly to potential threats around them. They can learn the boundaries and traffic patterns of roads and cars, as well as the limits of neighborhood dogs in particular yards.
9.) Deer graze close to highways and roads, not because they like to live dangerously (or stupidly) like I originally thought, but simply because the un-manicured roadsides have more vegetation, with a better variety, than your yard might.
10.) Antlers are re-grown from scratch every year. Easily the fastest growing tissue on the entire planet, antler growth expands by one whole inch every two days.
11.) Deer mating season happens in the Fall and is known as “The Rut”.
12.) Female deer can give birth to a single fawn, twins, or triplets.
13.) Baby deer are born with almost no scent whatsoever, making them able to hide in tall grass (almost in plain sight) and still be invisible to predators. Adult deer have at least seven scent glands.
14.) Albino deer, also known as ghost deer, are extremely rare.
15.) The Florida Keys are home to an evolutionary miniature of white-tail deer, also known as Key Deer. The Key Deer are a highly endangered species with an estimated 800 left in existence (That makes me sad).
Well if you’re a nature buff like me, I hope you thoroughly enjoyed this post and learned something new about deer! If not, I hope you still enjoyed the pretty pictures of my sketchbook and various vintage items I’ve collected. Slowly but surely I’m digitizing my sketch in order to make a new print for my Spoonflower shop. I’ll share more progress there as it develops
What do you think, did you learn something new? Do you love animal documentaries as much as I do? Can you recommend any new ones for me?!
p.s. Have a safe and happy Halloween!