Do Female Deer Have Antlers

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Do female deer have antlers? Many people assume that female deer don’t have antlers. While this is mostly true, there are certain exceptions when this isn’t true.

There have been several occasions where hunters have shot a deer thinking it was a buck. However, upon inspecting their kill, they came to realize that it was a doe.

Has this ever happened to you? This article will discuss circumstances surrounding when female deer grow antlers.

Does and Antlers

There are certain times when does have antlers. While it’s not common, it does happen in the wild. An antlered doe normally exists within the whitetail deer species.

Does that belong to the reindeer species and female whitetail deer species will sometimes develop antlers. Normally, an imbalance of hormones is what leads to this rare event.

There has been research conducted that highlights other causes for this anomaly. Let’s examine some other reasons for when female deer have antlers. 

Why Do Deer Grow Antlers as Does?

Normally, a doe will only grow antlers if she has high levels of testosterone. This also means that does who grow antlers are considered hermaphrodites.

In these cases, deer will possess both sex organs. If you plan on hunting, it’s important to understand the chemistry surrounding antler growth in deer.

Scientific Standpoint: When Female Deer Have Antlers

Science states that there is no such thing as a doe that grows antlers. Because these animals are considered hermaphrodites, they are neither male deer nor female.

While there have been extremely few cases where antlered does exist, the chances are slim to none. Instead, they are more likely to be hermaphrodites or pseudohermaphrodites. Let’s examine the differences between these two.

Hermaphrodites

These animals have both male deer and female sex organs. Normally, these animals have outward male organs and internal female organs. However, they can possess both types of internal organs. In rare cases, these animals are actually capable of delivering fawns during mating season.

It’s important to understand that every case is different. Sometimes, full antlers aren’t developed and instead are just patches of velvet.

Pseudohermaphroditism

In these cases of pseudohermaphrodites, only one type of sexual organ is contained internally. They will either be fully male or fully female internally. Outwardly, they possess the organs of whatever the opposite sex is.

Females may have external genitalia of females but internal sex organs of males. In both types of animals, hormones are mixed up. This is why antlers end up being present.

The exact size of the antlers actually depends on the levels of testosterone. When the levels are high, they will grow polished branch antlers. However, when the levels are low, they will grow only velvet.

Real Antlered Does May Exist

It is true that antlered does do actually exist. However, the chances of finding an all-female with antlers are extremely low. The odds of finding one are about 0.001% or one in 10,000. Typically, antlered does aren’t hunted.

Research shows that the average number of deer hunted in each state is about 160,000. The number of antlered does in this number is about five.

What is the reason they don’t get hunted? The antler size is exceptionally small. Most hunters tend to go after deer with large racks. Antlered does don’t possess the trophy rack that hunters are looking for.

There are only a few species where antlered does exist. One of them is white-tailed deer, and the antlers are shed in the spring. This is because they need as much energy as possible to give birth to fawns. White-tailed does possess two different types of antlers.

Velvet Antlers

The antlers are just like male deer in the fact that they are covered in velvet. Antlered does that bear fawns have well-developed reproductive systems and will behave like the typical doe.

Polished Antlers

These types of antlers are polished and not covered in velvet. Does with polished antlers will behave as males because they are pseudohermaphrodites. However, they will still have the external genitals of a female.

It’s because of the internal reproductive organs of a male that give them their behavioral characteristics. Because of this, they have higher levels of testosterone.

Antler Growth In Reindeer

Reindeer are different from other deer species in the fact that male reindeer and females will develop antlers naturally. Research has shown that antler growth is possible, even with the absence of gonads. The assumption that only male deer grow antlers is false here. 

This happens in higher numbers than other species of deer, proving that many females grow antlers. However, not every female reindeer will go through this growth. This proves that antler growth is specific isn’t specific to one deer family. Many people assume that whitetails are the only species growing antlers, but this isn’t true. 

Most of them will grow forms of horny spikes, but this is still not true for every female. A small portion of female reindeer won’t grow any reindeer antlers at all. Currently, there is no scientific data to suggest why this doesn’t happen in every female.

FAQs

Is it true that does don’t grow antlers?

In most cases, does don’t grow antlers. This is not a natural occurrence. However, in some cases, female deer will have antlers.

Although it’s more common for hermaphrodites to exist with antlers, there are cases where authentic females grow antlers. This is usually only typical of white-tailed deer.

Additionally, reindeer will grow antlers naturally as females. This happens in a large majority of the females, but not all of them.

Can does with antlers still have babies during mating season?

This depends on the specific situation. If a female deer that is 100% natural has antlers, there’s no reason to believe she can’t have fawns. After all, she is a normal female deer, minus the presence of antlers. These does will also shed their antlers annually. 

Beyond this, it gets a bit more complicated. A hermaphrodite deer possesses both female and male sexual organs. When a hermaphrodite deer has both female and male internal sexual organs and outward male sexual organs, they can’t have fawns.

However, if one of these animals has a well-developed internal reproductive system that’s female and outward female sexual organs, they can still have fawns. This is with the presence of internal male sexual organs.

Pseudohermaphrodites, however, can’t have fawns. If they possess the external female sexual organs needed to mate and give birth, this means that they have internal male reproductive organs, which would make carrying a fawn impossible.

Additionally, if they did possess outward female sexual organs, it would mean they had internal male sexual organs. Again, this would make becoming pregnant impossible.

Another instance of does having antlers and having babies is the case of reindeer. Females grow antlers without any complications or unique situations. It’s very common for authentic female reindeer to grow antlers.

This doesn’t mean that all female reindeer have antlers. Sometimes, they aren’t present at all.

Do does with antlers act like males or females?

Again, this depends on how their sexual organs are structured. If the female deer is an authentic female, of course, she will act like a female.

However, if a pseudohermaphrodite has external female organs with internal male organs, she will act like a male. This is because of the presence of the male internal organs and high levels of testosterone. This also means she will grow exceptionally large antlers.

If a hermaphrodite has female internal sexual organs, even with outward male sexual organs, she will still possess female traits and behaviors. She will just be unable to mate or have fawns.

Regardless of the specific situation, any female deer with antlers will go through the same shedding process as males do every spring. The antlers are shed in the molting process during the spring, and they will grow back later on in the year.

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Noah James

Noah James

Outdoor adventurer and curious soul, I decided to create this Native Compass to talk about the great outdoors. Welcome!
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