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Why Should You Never Touch A Baby Deer (& What Happens If You Do)

Many people find baby deer, also known as fawns, adorable due to their big black eyes, soft and spotted lightly colored fur, and wobbly legs. Their sweet and innocent appearance has made them beloved animals to many.

However, it’s essential to remember that they are wild animals and should be treated with care and respect. Therefore, this article will provide valuable information to help you understand why you should never touch a baby deer and the consequences involved if you disregard this rule.

Why Should You Never Touch A Baby Deer?

Below are some of the reasons why you should never touch a fawn:

Interfering With Its Mother’s Scent

Fawns are born with an instinct to lay still and remain hidden from predators, relying on their camouflaged coats to blend into their surroundings. Their mothers will leave them alone for extended periods while they go off to forage for food, relying on their fawns’ ability to stay hidden to keep them safe.

If a human touches or disturbs the fawn, they may accidentally remove the scent that the mother uses to find her baby, causing her to abandon it out of fear for its safety.

Disease and Parasites

Touching a fawn can expose you to harmful diseases and parasites that can cause serious health problems. Some baby deer carry ticks, fleas, and other pests that can infest humans with diseases such as brucellosis.

Mule deer fawn

Stress and Trauma

If a fawn is separated from its mother or siblings, it may become disoriented and anxious, making it more vulnerable to predators. Human contact can contribute to the stress or traumatize fawns, adversely affecting their physical and emotional health.

Legal Consequences

In some areas, touching or handling wildlife, including fawns, is illegal. Therefore, touching a baby deer can have severe legal consequences for the person involved.

What to Do if You Find a Baby Deer Alone?

If you find a fawn alone, resisting the urge to touch or interact with it is crucial. Additionally, below are some steps you can take to enhance its safety and well-being:

1. Observe From a Distance

Fawns are born with the instinct to lay still and remain hidden from predators, so seeing them alone is normal. Admire/observe the fawn from a distance and track any signs of distress or injury.

2. Assess The Situation

If the fawn appears injured, malnourished, or distressed, contact a wildlife rehabilitation expert or an animal control officer for assistance. They can advise on the best course of action or transport the fawn to a wildlife rehabilitation center if necessary.

3. Keep Pets and People Away

If you have pets, keep them off the fawn to avoid causing stress or harm. Similarly, keeping people/kids away from the fawn is vital to avoid disturbing its natural behavior or exposing it to disease.

Hidden fawn

4. Don’t Feed or Care For The Fawn

Fawns have specific dietary and care requirements that can be difficult to meet without specialized knowledge and training. Therefore, feeding or caring for a fawn on your own can do more harm than good, as it can cause stress and disrupt its natural behavior.

5. Let The Mother Return

The fawn’s mother often returns to care for her baby once humans have left the area. Therefore, if the baby deer appears healthy and uninjured, it’s best to leave it alone and let nature take its course.

Do Deer Leave Their Babies Alone?

Yes, it’s common for adult female deer to leave their young ones for extended periods. It is a natural behavior that helps protect the fawns from predators and allows the mother to forage for food.

After giving birth, the doe often hides her fawn in a secluded area, such as tall grass or a thicket, and leaves it alone for several hours while she goes off to find food. During this time, the fawn will remain still and quiet to avoid attracting attention from predators.

The mother will return periodically to nurse her fawn, but for the most part, she will leave it alone and rely on its ability to stay hidden to keep it safe.

As the fawn grows older and becomes more mobile, the mother will gradually spend more time teaching it important survival skills, such as how to forage for food and avoid predators.

Also read: Can Deer Swim? Why Do They Go in the Water?

What Happens if You Touch a Baby Deer?

When humans touch a baby deer, they leave behind their scent, which can alert predators to the fawn’s presence and make it more vulnerable to attack.

Additionally, the smell of humans on a fawn can cause the mother to reject her baby. In some cases, touching a fawn can cause it to become stressed or frightened, leading to injuries or even death.

Therefore, if a fawn is separated from its mother, avoiding interacting with/touching it is crucial; since it can disrupt its natural adaption capability and make it more difficult for the mother to access and care for her offspring.

Baby and mother deer

Will The Mother Abandon Its Baby if You Touch It?

While a doe can abandon her fawn if she perceives it as dangerous, touching it is not always enough to trigger this response.

Deer have a strong maternal instinct to protect and care for their offspring, and they will often go to great lengths to ensure their survival. If a fawn is separated from its mother, the mother will usually return to care for her baby once humans or other potential threats have left the area.

The mother will not abandon her baby simply because a human has touched it as long as it is sure that the fawn is her offspring. It’s because these mammals have other ways of recognizing their calves, such as the fawn’s unique spots covering its fur.

Final Thoughts

It’s important to remember that while fawns may appear cute and harmless, these young animals are not pets and should never be touched by humans.

By avoiding contact with baby deer and other wild animals, we can help protect and preserve their natural habitats, prevent harm to the animals and ourselves, and ensure that these precious creatures have the best chance of thriving in their natural habitat.

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