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Deer in Arizona: Facts You Need to Know

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Chandler, Arizona, is home to a variety of wildlife, including deer. These majestic creatures are known for their beauty, grace, and agility. However, despite their gentle appearance, they are still wild animals and should be treated with caution and respect. In this article, we will explore some of the most common questions about deer in Chandler, Arizona, including their behavior, diet, and habitat.

Can Deer Swim?

Yes, deer are capable of swimming. While they are not known as avid swimmers, they can take to the water when necessary. Deer are generally agile and nimble on land, using their long legs to navigate various terrains. However, when faced with bodies of water such as rivers, lakes, or ponds, they can swim across to reach the other side or escape from predators.

Deer are naturally buoyant due to their body composition and air-filled hair that acts as insulation. This buoyancy helps them stay afloat while swimming. They use a paddling motion with their legs, similar to other swimming animals, to propel themselves through the water.

It’s important to note that deer typically prefer to avoid swimming unless necessary. They are more adapted to terrestrial habitats and are generally more comfortable on land. Swimming is usually a last resort for them when faced with obstacles or when crossing bodies of water is the only option available to them.

When deer do swim, they can cover relatively long distances and are capable of swimming across wide rivers or lakes. However, their swimming abilities may vary among species and individuals. Factors such as water currents, distance, and their physical condition can influence their swimming performance.

It’s fascinating to witness deer swimming, but it’s important to remember that they are wild animals. If you encounter a swimming deer or observe one from a distance, it’s best to respect their space and avoid causing unnecessary stress or disturbance.

Deer’s Favorite Food

Deer are herbivores and have a varied diet consisting of different types of plants and vegetation. While their preferences may vary depending on the season and availability of food, there are several types of plants that are commonly considered favorites among deer:

  • Tender Shoots and Leaves: Deer have a particular fondness for tender young shoots, leaves, and buds. They often target plants with soft foliage, such as clover, alfalfa, and various types of grasses.
  • Forbs: Forbs are broad-leaved herbaceous plants that grow in meadows, fields, and open areas. Deer are known to enjoy forbs such as dandelions, asters, goldenrod, and wildflowers.
  • Mast: Mast refers to nuts, acorns, and fruits produced by trees. Deer are particularly attracted to the nutrient-rich mast of trees such as oaks, beeches, hickories, and apple trees. These food sources are especially important during the fall when deer prepare for the winter months.
  • Woody Plants: While deer primarily prefer soft vegetation, they also consume the twigs, buds, and bark of woody plants. They may browse on shrubs, bushes, and saplings, particularly during periods of limited food availability.
  • Agricultural Crops: In areas where deer coexist with agricultural lands, they can be drawn to crops such as soybeans, corn, wheat, and various types of vegetables.

It’s important to note that deer have a selective feeding behavior and their preferences can vary based on factors such as seasonal changes, geographic location, and local plant availability. They are adaptable and will consume what is most abundant and accessible in their habitat.

While deer may have their favorite foods, it’s crucial to maintain a balance between their browsing habits and the preservation of natural habitats and agricultural lands. Responsible land management practices and appropriate measures to protect crops can help mitigate potential conflicts between deer and human activities.

Where Do Deer Sleep?

Deer have different sleeping patterns and preferences depending on various factors such as their habitat, season, and available shelter. While they don’t sleep in the same way humans do, they do rest and seek shelter during their inactive periods.

Here are some common places where deer may sleep or rest:

  • Bedding Areas: Deer often create bedding areas in secluded spots with dense vegetation or tall grass. These areas provide cover and protection from predators. Deer will typically lie down and rest in these bedding areas during periods of inactivity, such as during the day or at night.
  • Forest or Wooded Areas: Deer find refuge in forested areas, particularly where there is a mix of mature trees, shrubs, and understory vegetation. The dense canopy and foliage offer shade, protection from the elements, and a sense of security.
  • Thickets and Brushy Areas: Thickets and brushy areas provide deer with cover and concealment. These areas, often composed of dense shrubs or young saplings, offer privacy and protection from predators.
  • Edge Habitats: Deer may utilize transitional zones between different habitat types, known as edge habitats. These areas, such as the edges of fields, meadows, or forest edges, provide a mix of cover and forage, making them attractive for resting and feeding.
  • Open Spaces: In some cases, deer may sleep or rest in open spaces, particularly if they feel secure and have a clear view of their surroundings. They rely on their keen senses, such as hearing and sight, to detect any potential threats.

It’s important to note that deer are cautious animals and are always alert to their surroundings, even while resting. They have a natural instinct to detect and respond to potential dangers. They may change their bedding locations frequently to minimize predation risk and ensure their overall safety.

Respecting the natural habitats and providing undisturbed areas for deer to rest and seek shelter is crucial for their well-being and survival.

Where Do Deer Hibernate?

Deer do not hibernate in the same way as some other animals, such as bears or groundhogs. Hibernation is a state of prolonged inactivity and lowered body temperature that allows animals to conserve energy during periods of harsh weather or limited food availability.

Instead of hibernation, deer go through a process known as winter survival or winter adaptation. During winter, when food sources may become scarce and the weather becomes challenging, deer employ various strategies to cope with the conditions.

Deer typically rely on their ability to find suitable food sources and adjust their activity patterns to conserve energy. They may adapt their behavior by:

  • Seeking out areas with better food availability, such as stands of evergreen trees or areas where grasses and shrubs are still accessible.
  • Browsing on available woody vegetation, such as tree twigs and bark, when other food sources are limited.
  • Moving to lower elevations or areas with milder climates, if they have the option, to find more favorable conditions and food sources.
  • Reducing their activity levels during extreme weather conditions, conserving energy by minimizing movement.

It’s important to note that deer remain active throughout the winter, even in regions with cold temperatures and snowfall. They are well-adapted to withstand the challenges of winter and continue to forage and move in search of food. Their ability to find suitable resources and adapt to changing conditions plays a crucial role in their survival during winter.

While deer do not hibernate, they do exhibit behavioral and physiological changes during winter to ensure their survival. By adapting to their environment and making the most of available food sources, they can successfully navigate through the winter months.

What Time Do Deer Usually Come Out?

Deer are most active during the twilight hours, which are the periods around dawn and dusk when the light is low. These times of the day are commonly referred to as the “crepuscular” periods. While deer may be active at other times as well, they tend to exhibit a higher level of activity during these low-light periods.

The exact timing of deer activity can vary depending on several factors, including the season, availability of food, predation risk, and human disturbance. However, as a general guideline, deer are often observed:

  • In the early morning: Deer are known to be active during the pre-dawn hours as the sun begins to rise. This period provides them with an opportunity to feed and move around before the daylight becomes too bright.
  • In the late afternoon or early evening: Deer also tend to be active during the late afternoon and early evening hours before darkness falls. This time allows them to feed again before settling down for the night.

During these times, deer may venture out into open fields, meadows, or forest edges to search for food, socialize with other deer, or engage in other behaviors. However, it’s important to note that deer are naturally wary and sensitive to their surroundings. They may adjust their activity patterns based on the presence of predators, human disturbance, or other factors that could pose a potential threat.

Observing deer during their active periods can be an exciting experience, but it’s essential to respect their space and avoid causing unnecessary stress or disturbance. Maintaining a safe distance and observing from a concealed location can help ensure their natural behaviors are undisturbed.

What Does Deer Smell Like?

Deer have a unique scent that can vary depending on various factors, including their diet, habitat, and individual health. The smell of deer is often described as musky or earthy. It is a distinct scent that can be detected when in close proximity to the animal or its surroundings.

The musky odor of deer is primarily attributed to pheromones, which are chemical substances released by deer for various purposes, including communication and marking territory. These pheromones play a role in attracting mates, indicating reproductive readiness, and communicating with other deer.

Deer also have scent glands located on different parts of their bodies, such as their tarsal glands and forehead glands. These glands secrete chemicals that contribute to the overall scent of deer. During the rutting season, adult male deer, known as bucks, may have a more pungent scent due to the increased activity of these scent glands.

It’s important to note that the scent of deer may not be readily noticeable to humans unless in close proximity to the animal or its scent markings. Additionally, human perception of scents can vary, and individuals may have different interpretations or sensitivities to the odor of deer.

While deer do have a distinct smell, it is important to appreciate and observe them from a distance, avoiding direct contact or attempting to get too close. Respecting their natural behaviors and habitat is crucial for their well-being and the preservation of their natural scent-marking behaviors.

Can Deer Get Rabies?

While it is possible for deer to contract rabies, it is relatively rare. Rabies is a viral disease that affects mammals, including humans and animals like raccoons, skunks, bats, and foxes. However, deer are considered less susceptible to rabies compared to some other species.

The transmission of rabies usually occurs through the bite or scratch of an infected animal, and it is primarily transmitted through the saliva of the infected animal. In general, healthy deer do not exhibit aggressive behavior or attack humans or other animals, reducing the likelihood of transmitting rabies.

It’s important to note that the prevalence of rabies can vary geographically. In areas where rabies is more common in certain wildlife populations, it is crucial to maintain caution and avoid contact with any wild animals, including deer. If you encounter a deer behaving abnormally or showing signs of illness, it is best to report it to the appropriate wildlife authorities for further investigation and guidance.

Although the risk of deer transmitting rabies is low, it is always wise to exercise caution and avoid direct contact with any wild animal. If you come into contact with a deer or any wildlife, it is advisable to observe them from a safe distance and not attempt to handle or approach them.

If you suspect any animal, including a deer, may be infected with rabies, it is essential to report the situation to local wildlife officials or animal control authorities so that appropriate measures can be taken to address the potential health risk.

Are Deer Nocturnal?

Yes, deer are primarily nocturnal animals. They are most active during the hours of dawn and dusk, but they can also be active during the night. This behavior is known as crepuscular activity. During the daytime, deer are more likely to rest or find a shady spot to avoid the hot sun.

Are Deer Color Blind?

Deer are not entirely color-blind, but their eyes are not as sensitive to colors as human eyes. They see mostly in shades of blue and green, which is why they are better at distinguishing between different shades of these colors. However, they have difficulty distinguishing between red and green, which is why hunters often wear orange clothing during hunting season.

What do Deer Eat?

Deer are herbivores and mainly eat leaves, grass, and bark. In the wild, they will feed on whatever vegetation is available, depending on the season and location. Some of their favorite foods include acorns, berries, and apples. In captivity, deer are usually fed a diet of hay, grains, and vegetables.

Are Deer Herbivores?

Yes, deer are herbivores, which means that they eat only plant matter. They have a complex digestive system that allows them to extract nutrients from the cellulose in plants. They have a four-chambered stomach, and like cows, they regurgitate and re-chew their food to break down the tough cellulose fibers.

Are Deer Antlers Safe for Dogs?

Deer antlers are a popular dog chew toy, but they can be dangerous if not used correctly. Deer antlers are incredibly hard and can cause dental fractures or even break your dog’s teeth if they are too aggressive while chewing. It’s best to monitor your dog while they’re chewing on an antler and replace it if it becomes too small or damaged.

Are Deer Omnivores?

No, deer are not omnivores. They are strict herbivores and eat only plants. However, there have been some reports of deer eating small insects, lizards, and even small rodents. These instances are relatively rare and are usually the result of food shortages or extreme weather conditions.

Are Deer Dangerous?

Deer are generally not dangerous to humans, but they can be unpredictable and easily startled. If you encounter a deer, it’s best to keep a safe distance and avoid making any sudden movements or loud noises. Bucks can be more aggressive during the rutting season when they are looking for mates. In these cases, it’s best to give them plenty of space and avoid approaching them.

Will Deer Eat Pumpkins?

Yes, deer will eat pumpkins, especially during the fall season when pumpkins are plentiful. Pumpkins are a great source of nutrition for deer and provide them with vitamins and minerals that they need to stay healthy. However, it’s essential to keep in mind that deer can become accustomed to feeding on pumpkins and other human food, which can lead to dependency and potential problems.

Will Deer Move in the Rain?

Deer are accustomed to being outdoors in all types of weather, including rain. They are not deterred by a little bit of precipitation and will continue to move around and forage for food, as long as the rain is not too heavy. However, during heavy rain, deer may take cover under trees or other shelter to avoid getting wet.

Are Deer Ruminants?

Yes, deer are ruminants, which means that they have a four-chambered stomach that allows them to digest tough plant matter. They are similar to cows, sheep, and goats in their digestive process, which involves regurgitating and re-chewing their food to extract the maximum amount of nutrition.

Are Deer Smart?

Deer are incredibly intelligent animals and are known for their keen senses, including their hearing, smell, and eyesight. They are cautious and wary of humans and other potential threats, which is why they are difficult to hunt or capture. In addition, deer have excellent memory skills and can remember places and events for many years.

Will Deer Move in the Wind?

Deer are highly sensitive to their environment and can be easily spooked by sudden movements or noises. However, wind alone is unlikely to cause deer to move unless it is accompanied by other factors, such as a change in temperature or weather conditions. In general, deer are more likely to move around during calm weather conditions when they feel more comfortable and safe.

Will Deer Eat Potatoes?

Deer will eat potatoes if they are available and there is a shortage of other food sources. However, potatoes are not a natural part of a deer’s diet, and they do not provide the same level of nutrition as other plant matter. It’s essential to remember that feeding deer human food can lead to dependency and potential problems, so it’s best to avoid feeding them unless it is absolutely necessary.

Will Deer Eat Carrots?

Deer will eat carrots, but they are not a natural part of their diet. Carrots are high in sugar and do not provide the same level of nutrition as other plant matter, such as leaves and bark. In addition, feeding deer human food can lead to dependency and potential problems, so it’s best to avoid feeding them unless it is absolutely necessary.

Will Deer Eat Oranges?

Deer will eat oranges if they are available and there is a shortage of other food sources. Oranges are high in sugar and provide deer with a quick burst of energy, but they do not provide the same level of nutrition as other plant matter. In addition, feeding deer human food can lead to dependency and potential problems, so it’s best to avoid feeding them unless it is absolutely necessary.

Will Deer Eat Hay?

Deer will eat hay, especially during the winter months when other food sources are scarce. Hay provides deer with a source of fiber and nutrients that they need to stay healthy. In addition, feeding deer hay can help prevent damage to your landscaping and other plants, as deer may turn to eating them if there is a shortage of food.

Will Deer Eat Bananas?

Deer will eat bananas if they are available and there is a shortage of other food sources. Bananas are high in sugar and provide deer with a quick burst of energy, but they do not provide the same level of nutrition as other plant matter. In addition, feeding deer human food can lead to dependency and potential problems, so it’s best to avoid feeding them unless it is absolutely necessary.

Which Deer Have Antlers?

Only male deer, also known as bucks, have antlers. Female deer, also known as does, do not have antlers. Antlers are used by male deer during the mating season to attract females and establish dominance over other males.

When Do Deer Shed Their Antlers?

Deer shed their antlers once a year, usually in the late winter or early spring. The exact timing of antler shedding varies depending on the specific type of deer and other factors, such as nutrition and genetics. Once the antlers are shed, the deer will begin growing a new set for the next mating season.

How Long Are Deer Pregnant?

Deer are pregnant for approximately six to seven months, depending on the specific type of deer. The gestation period for white-tailed deer, which are common in Arizona, is around seven months. During this time, the female deer will give birth to one or two fawns, which are usually born in the spring or early summer.

What Are Male Deer Called?

Male deer are called bucks. Bucks are known for their large antlers, which they use during the mating season to establish dominance over other males and attract females.

How Do Deer Antlers Grow?

Deer antlers are the fastest-growing tissue in the animal kingdom. They can grow up to one inch per day and can reach a length of three feet in just three months. Antlers are made of bone and are covered in a layer of velvet, which provides nutrients and blood flow to the growing tissue. Once the antlers are fully grown, the velvet is shed, and the bone hardens.

Why Do Deer Shed Their Antlers?

Deer shed their antlers each year to conserve energy and prepare for the mating season. Antlers are made of bone and require a significant amount of energy to grow and maintain. By shedding their antlers, deer can conserve energy and focus on other important activities, such as foraging for food and preparing for the mating season.

How Often Do Deer Have Babies?

Deer typically have one or two fawns per year, depending on the specific type of deer and other factors such as nutrition and age. Fawns are born in the spring or early summer and are typically weaned after four to six months.

What Types of Deer are Found in Arizona?

Arizona is home to several types of deer, including mule deer, white-tailed deer, and Coues deer. Mule deer are the most common and are found throughout the state, while white-tailed deer are primarily found in the eastern part of the state. Coues deer are smaller in size and are found in the southern part of the state.


Deer are an important part of the wildlife in Chandler, Arizona, and understanding their behavior and needs is essential for coexisting with them safely.

Deer are beautiful and fascinating creatures, but they are still wild animals and should be treated with caution and respect. By following some simple guidelines, such as avoiding approaching them and not feeding them human food, we can ensure that both humans and deer can live in harmony.

If you want to see deer in their natural habitat, Veterans Oasis Park is a great place to visit. This beautiful park offers hiking trails, fishing, and wildlife viewing opportunities, including a chance to see some of Arizona’s native deer.

To learn more about Veterans Oasis Park and plan your visit, check out their website at 

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