Friday, August 7, 2020

THE KEY DEER


This beauty is a Key Deer found when holidaying in Florida. We had heard about them and kept a lookout. They are the only large herbivore in the Florida Keys, and feed on several native plant species.  Their diet consists of 160 species of plants including red, black and white mangroves, and thatch palm berries.

A little history that I gleaned from the websites I included towards the end of my post.

The Key Deer, member of a sub-species of the Virginia white-tailed deer, and its average height is between 24-32 inches.  Does average about 65 pounds and bucks around 85 pounds.  The color of fur ranges from a reddish brown to a slate gray.  Mature bucks shed their antlers between February and March, and they begin growing a new set almost immediately.  

It is found nowhere else in the world.  It is thought that they came to the Keys from the mainland across a long land bridge and were isolated from their relatives, somewhere 6,000 to 12,000 years ago, when the Wisconsin Glacier melted.  The waters rose and divided this land bridge into the islands of the Florida Keys.

The first documented mention of the Key Deer was in the memoirs of Hernando Escalante Fontanada, a 13 year old Spanish sailor who was on his way to Spain from Cartagena and was shipwrecked near "Cayo Vaca", the modernday Marathon area.  Fontanada was captured and held captive by Indians for about 18 years, until he was freed and allowed to return to Spain with crewmembers of a passing ship.

They are also the smallest subspecies of the North American White Tailed Deer.   If you go to this link it will take you a website that shows Jack Watson, the first refuge manager of National Key Deer Refuge.  The first photo gives you a visual of how 'big' these deer are. 

We found Beauty munching at the side of a narrow road with two companions, in one of the communities along the Keys.  I wasn’t too close as I was taking my photos with a zoom lens, crouching down as far as possible, while resting my camera on the ledge after I had put the car window down.   

Competing males start locking horns in the Fall, and the majority of white-spotted fawns are born in late Spring and the summer months. 

Poaching and habitat loss reduced their numbers to only a few dozen in the 1950s, but establishing the refuge and subsequently putting the deer on the endangered list in 1967, allowed the deer to recover.  At the time of our visit their number were close to a thousand. However, as they are most active at night, there have been several collisions with cars and so, like anywhere else, it is very important to drive with care and keep a lookout for wildlife.

Most of us nature lovers know this already, but interaction such as illegal feeding by humans have led to unhealthy conditions.  It is truly important to keep wildlife wild. 

I have several links below as I always enjoy looking at various sites with information, and maybe you will enjoy them too. 



Not wanting to disturb them for more than a few precious moments, we left them to continue feeding.

Thanks for stopping by.  I hope your day is a great one and have a very enjoyable weekend.  Stay safe and happy!






44 comments:

  1. What a wonderful closeup portrait photo! Such long eyelashes and fluffy ears. So they are a small deer. His fur looks like velvet. And he is actually looking right at us and posing. Does not even look afraid!

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    1. I know, so adorable! Yes, smaller than ours here in Virginia. No, doesn't look afraid but I wasn't as close as it seems as I used my zoom.

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  2. Gorgeous, and the whole post is good to read. Thank you.

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  3. Hello, Denise

    I have been to the Key Deer Refuge, just to see these cute deer. Great photo! Take care, have a happy day and weekend!

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    1. I am happy you got to see them for yourself Eileen. Thank you and I wish you the same :)

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  4. Interesting, beautiful creature.

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  5. Oh aren't they sweet! Such a small size, in relation, to other deer.

    How interesting that they survived and flourished here... But it would seem, died out, on the mainland... Or, these migrated across the land bridge, and with smaller area (island) to graze, they diminished in size... All very interesting.

    Of course, keep wild things wild! Common sense. So stupid, to not do this. Grrrrr... ~sigh~

    "Beside a babbling brook" blog
    'Miss BB' 🐝🐝

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    1. They certainly are :) They migrated across the land bridge by all accounts. I think maybe their size evolved because of their surroundings. It is fascinating. Thanks BB, you are a smart lady, not the other :)

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  6. Precious little Key Deer. What a sweet face

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  7. I first saw Key Deer on my first trip to the Keys back in the '70's. Real cute creatures

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  8. What a beautiful photograph, and an interesting post to read too.
    Thank you.

    All the best Jan

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    1. Glad you enjoyed Jan, thank you and all the best to you too :)

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  9. I love the look you captured in this beautiful Key Deer, Denise! Thank you for the interesting information on them.

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    1. Hi Martha Ellen, you are very welcome, and so glad you enjoyed :)

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  10. Never heard of a Key deer. Thanks for all the history!

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  11. When I first saw the photo of a deer, I just felt the deer was pretty. Reading your good explanation on it later made me feel the dignity the deers have kept.

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    1. What a lovely way of putting it, than you RC :)

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  12. That deer has a sweet expression. I'm glad that they survived and are now living in a refuge. I think of the Florida habitat where you can see them and think that what they eat is unusual. I'm hoping to see fallow deer in a parkland when we go out for a drive next week and maybe take photos of them.

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    1. Hi Linda :) I hope you got to see your fallow deer :)

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  13. How can you not love that face with eyes that are deep dark pools. Lovely!

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    1. I agree Penelope, how can we not? :) Thank you!

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  14. Most interesting! As you know, by my post today, I love deer. This is a treasure trove of information. Thanks Denise.

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    1. You're very welcome Anni, and I loved your deer photos :)

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  15. Hi Denise,
    Wonderful image of the head, they are not as large as I first imagined,~I tend to think of our deer and the size. We however have a small deer, but that's even larger than the Key.
    You both stay safe and well,
    John

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    1. Hi John, it's all relative isn't it John? When I see the Elk they seem enormous compared to our white-tailed deer. You stay safe and well also and thank you :)

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  16. They sure are small...I would love to see them in real life. I don't remember ever hearing of them, or if I did I have totally forgotten.

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    1. Hi Rose, our trip to the Florida Keys was the first time we had heard or seen of them :)

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  17. So cute! I'd love to see them.

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    1. Thank you Linda, I hope you get to see them one day :)

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