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Wild Animals/Whitetail Deer Leg Abnormalty/Injury


The like it to a short video of a whitetail buck with some sort of a problem with its leg. Can you identify the type of injury or growth that is showing? The entire growth appeared within a 3 day period from normal tow hat you see now.

Dear Andre,

A lesion that appeared so suddenly is probably an abscess (localized bacterial infection), though you'd have to biopsy it to be sure.  Looks painful.  :(  Poor guy.  

It also could be a fluid-filled cyst of some kind, but the leg is certainly not broken if he is putting weight on it.  There's a possibility it could be a cysticercosis cyst (tapeworm larvae) if the deer ingested something with tapeworm eggs in it (infected browse).  We've seen lesions like that one some of our bunnies, and our vet was very surprised to find out what it was when it was removed!  (Dang people walking their infected dogs adjacent to our property!)

But again...without a biopsy, it's impossible to know for sure.

Hope he recovers, though.


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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.

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

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