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!