Pets

Can deer be kept as pets?

In many countries, deer are only ever held in trusts and sanctuaries for their benefit and our own, or on the farms. It is illegal for people to confine deer without a permit in most countries of the world. So much so that in some places, if a warden hears about a deer being made a pet he will come in and put it down. Nevertheless, from time to time we learn of some instances where people have been keeping deer as pets.

Did you know Audrey Hepburn once had a fawn named Pippin while in the late 1950’s? It started off as a movie-related assignment, where Audrey’s heroine was a girl really connected with nature, with a fawn following her everywhere. So Hepburn took the tiny animal home to get to know each other. But Pippin eventually stole Audrey’s heart.

Unfortunately, we don’t know how the story ended, but have a series of photographs by Bob Willoughby, a photographer for LIFE magazine. They show the actress bottle feeding the little one, holding her in her arms, the two going shopping together, even having a nap on the couch.  

Little fawns pose little risk to their owners or pets around due to their size. But things get more complicated as these animals mature. Despite their appearance, even a small deer with those slender legs is quite powerful and muscular animal. They can move very fast and cause grave damage even with just their hoves, not to mention antlers, if they’re allowed to keep them.
Domesticated bucks have been known to suddenly attack their humans during rut (mating season). Hormones turn docile bucks into an animal that will fight to establish dominance. In the wild bucks fight each other during the rut, a confined buck will fight a human if there’s nobody else. So under no circumstances whatsoever do you want to keep buck as a pet.
Meanwhile, does (female deer) become extra cautios and protective when they’re in fawn or have recetly given birth. Being fearful for their progeny, females can also become more aggressive, although not as bad as males.

Deer can attack out of fright or hurt by accident, they can even kill themselves when in panic mode, by throwing themselves against a closed gate (door) repeatedly and breaking their necks.
Deer do not like dogs. There are plenty of reports on the internet about deer mauling or killing a dog. In the wild, deer simply try to run away rather than take on a canine like dog. But when they cohabitate with humans and dogs around and they feel trapped or are protecting their young, tragedies can happen. Of course, if a fawn is growing up by the dog’s side from the first days of its life, chances are they’ll get along, but we have too little real life examples to say with certainty how this odd friendhip will develop long term.

Deer need freedom to roam around and browse edible plants, so they require a lot of space, and it is cruel and unjust to confine them unless you can offer a large outdoor area with some treas. Besides, to prevent deer visiting neighbours, you’d need not just a fence, but a 8-foot (2 metre) high fence to ensure your pet doesn’t jump over it.

Dietary requirements need to be carefully studied. Deer can die from acidocis caused by improper feed, so you need to know what deer eat. Any new food needs to be introduced slowly.

Finally, if you come across a fawn in the woods, don’t immediately assume it’s been abandoned. Mother deer will usually leave their fawns alone for a couple of hours while they search for food, but will come back to feed their babies later. If you touch the fawn you may frighten it and also leave human scent on its coat, which might attract predators. A newborn fawn is throuroughly licked by mother so it has very little scent.

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