Wild Animals/White-tailed deer



This is probably an odd question, but I was wondering how a white-tailed deer (a doe, specifically) raised by humans would behave. How would wild deer behavior translate to a domestic setting? Would she be playful? Trainable? Easily socialized? Affectionate? Anything else important?

For bonus points: what issues would come up for the person raising the deer? (This would be in a quasi-suburban setting with wild deer around.) Would there be problems around rutting season? Would she be likely to damage property when startled or excited? Etc.

This is for writing purposes, by the way. I don't intend to acquire a pet deer.


Dear Lara,

I've never had a deer as a companion so can't give you firsthand information. But I do know people who have lived with deer. The females are quite adorable and playful.  Males can become aggressive when they reach sexual maturity, and even dangerous.

You might want to contact these folks:


Though they don't have "pet" deer, they can probably tell you a LOT about the natural behavior of female deer who interact on a regular and friendly basis with humans.

Good luck with the writing project!


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Dana Krempels, Ph.D.


I'm an evolutionary biologist with a passion for animals. Ask about natural history, behavior, ecology, evolution. PLEASE NOTE:

If you have found an "orphaned" or injured wild animal or bird:
Please don't waste time asking questions on the internet, as the answers may come too late. DO NOT FEED THE ANIMAL, and DO NOT HANDLE IT unless it is in imminent danger. (Many wild "orphans" are not orphans at all!) If you are absolutely sure it is orphaned, keep it warm and quiet, and find a LICENSED WILDLIFE REHABILITATOR HERE. Don't try to raise a baby yourself, or rehabilitate an injured anmal. Many a well-intentioned rescuer will do more harm than good, especially with baby birds and baby rabbits.

Without geographic location, time of day and habitat, I can't help. A clear picture is always best.

It's impossible for me to I.D. an animal call without hearing it myself.

I'm not an expert on comparative strengths of different animals (more complicated than you might think!) nor bite forces.

I refuse to answer "Which of these two animals--X or X--would win in a fight?".

These hypothetical matchups range from impossible (Grizzly Bears and Gorillas don't even occupy the same continent.) to ridiculous (Someone asked me "Who would win a fight between a Great White Shark and a tiger?").

The vast majority of animals--even the fierce and powerful--are not as warlike as Homo sapiens, and it's childish to project our aggressiveness onto them.


I have been the fortunate caregiver to a group of Black-tailed Jackrabbits rescued from the Miami International Airport, and not releasable in this area because they are not native. I also have rehabbed and released Eastern Cottontails, and am in contact with many very experienced wildlife rescuers who regularly handle injured or orphaned rabbits and hares.

House Rabbit Society

Exotic DVM journal

I have a Ph.D. in Biology, with main areas of expertise in evolutionary biology, genetics, botany, and ecology.

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