Tricky Identifications: White-Tailed Deer vs. Mule Deer

Welcome back to Tricky Identifications, a journal series that highlights a few similar species and the differences between them. Today's entry will go over the differences between the White-Tailed Deer (Odocoileus hemionus) and Mule Deer (Odocoileus virginianus).

Both species are distinguished from each other by their ears, tail, and, in males, antlers. In interior North America, Mule Deer typically have a thin, mostly white, black-tipped tail. White-Tailed Deer have thick tails that are dark above and white below, differentiating this species from Mule Deer. However in coastal Mule Deer (which have a similar tail to White-Tailed Deer), or when the tail is not visible, the ears can help determine the species, with Mule Deer having larger ears than White-Tailed Deer. In males, the antlers can also be helpful. Male White-Tailed Deer have antlers that consist of vertical tines (antler branches) branching off of one beam, while Mule Deer have tines that split in two as they grow.

Mule Deer: https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/42220-Odocoileus-hemionus/browse_photos?photo_license=any&term_id=17&term_value_id=18

Mule Deer range map: https://muledeer.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Mule-Deer_Ecoregions.jpg

White-Tailed Deer: https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/42223-Odocoileus-virginianus/browse_photos?order_by=created_at&photo_license=any&term_id=17&term_value_id=18

White-Tailed Deer range map: https://nhpbs.org/wild/images/whitetaileddeermap.jpg

Posted on January 01, 2023 04:33 AM by salmonadder salmonadder

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