Young Female Deer
As the only species of deer in Rhode Island, the white-tailed deer (Odocoileus
virginianus) is unmistakable. In western regions it may co-occur with the mule deer (Odocoileus
hemionus), but the white-tailed deer can be distinguished by its smaller ears and larger, whitetipped tail. The mule deer has a black or black-tipped tail.
Across their range, white-tailed deer females weigh 90-210 lbs. and males can range between
150-310 lbs. Individuals tend to be larger the further north they occur. The coat is reddish brown
to bright tan in the summer and turns grayer and dull in the winter. Fawns are reddish brown
with characteristic white spots. Males have antlers with smaller vertical points branching off the
main beam. Antlers are first grown after a male’s first year. In the spring, the new antlers are
covered with “velvet”, a soft skin that is filled with blood vessels. The velvet nourishes and
protects the growing bones. In late summer, when the antlers are mature, the velvet dries up and
is rubbed off. Antlers are then shed in the winter and re-grown over the summer.