Capturing the Moment — Mule Deer in Sabino Canyon   3 comments

Mule Deer — Images by kenne

I have often wondered about mule deer hair. We know it changes color from one season to the next, but there is much more to it than meets the eye. Mule deer live in a variety of climates throughout the West, from forests to deserts. To help survive extreme temperature fluctuations, I have learned they have some interesting fur adaptations, having several different types of hair in their coat at any given time. For example, an adult mule deer coat is composed of large guard hairs, intermediate guard hairs, mane hairs, and woolly under-hairs. Fawns have tufts of white-tipped hairs.

Mule deer coats change according to the animal’s age as well as to seasonal temperatures. Mule deer have four different pelages: natal (newborn), juvenile (fawn to yearling), adult summer, and adult winter. The adult winter pelage is the most complex, having all the hair types, with each type at its greatest diameter. The summer coat does not have underfur and is longer with more slender guard hairs lying at an inclined angle to the skin. This “design” is thought to shade the skin and to provide for efficient heat loss.

Mule deer molt their coats twice a year—spring and autumn. The autumn molt occurs when deer are in their best body condition with good food resources still available, which is key to producing a warm coat enough to meet winter’s energy demands. (Information obtained from


3 responses to “Capturing the Moment — Mule Deer in Sabino Canyon

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  1. I love deer. A friend of mine actually owns a deer. He had a medical condition and she saved his life. He will nibble at your shoes until he unties them!


  2. Those are Coues deer, Arizona white-tailed deer. Look at the tails.

    Liked by 1 person

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