Grand Canyon deer
Over 90 species of mammals call Grand Canyon National Park home, giving this park higher mammalian species diversity than Yellowstone. From the largest land animal in North America to some of the highest bat species diversity in the United States, Grand Canyon is home to a far larger mammalian population than many people think. Most visitors to the park see mule deer, elk, and squirrels, but many of Grand Canyon’s mammals are secretive or nocturnal and move around unnoticed
Mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) are very common throughout western North America, and are one of the most commonly seen animals in Grand Canyon National Park.
- Their large ears resemble those of mules – hence the name.
- They have a narrow tail which distinguishes them from white-tailed deer (Which are common in the United States, but not found in Grand Canyon National Park).
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- The most defining feature of these deer is their large, mule-like ears.
- They are brown to gray color, with lighter coloration around their rumps and faces than the rest of their bodies. The tail is white with a black tip.
- Mule deer adults are generally less than one-third the weight of adult elk weighing a maximum of around 200lbs (90kg) and standing 31-42 inches (80-106cm) tall at the shoulder.
- Mule deer are found throughout western North America- from northern Mexico to Alaska, and as far east as the Great Plains.
- They are some of the most versatile animals in Grand Canyon National Park, and are found in all habitats in the park- ranging from the forests of the Rims to desert scrub on the Tonto Plateau to the riparian habitat along the Colorado River.
- Males (bucks) grow a new, larger pair of antlers each year which they shed in the spring.
- Females (does) give birth to fawns in late spring/early summer.
- Mule deer are herbivores with a wide diet- they eat grasses, flowering plants, shrubs, nuts, and berries.
- They are the preferred prey of mountain lions. Mule deer have excellent hearing and eyesight to help them avoid predators.
- They are adapted to living in a dry environment. During summer, they are only active at night or early morning to avoid the heat. The large ears on mule deer are known to radiate heat away from the deer’s body, helping to keep it cool.