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Fawn Questions: Facts or Myths?

Back To "Ask The Biologist?"QUESTION: I've heard you can tell a fawn's sex by its spot pattern. I don't believe it, but would like to know if there is any scientific data to prove or disprove it.

Also, I've been told that if a doe has triplets, they will all be bucks. Is there any truth to that one, or are these simply myths? - R. Christ

Fawn Questions: Facts or Myths?ANSWER: Looks like this is a two-for-one question & answer day.

With regard to your first question, the short answer is: No.

The spotted pattern on a fawn is nature's camouflage, intended to help a young deer blend in with the forest floor by breaking up its solid form.

Like human fingerprints, each spot pattern is unique and no two are exactly alike.

So, there's no way to distinguish a deer's sex by its spots. Where do people come up with this stuff?

As for your second question, the answer is the same.

Regardless of how many fawns a doe has, the odds of any one being a buck or a doe are about equal.

There is some limited evidence that in extremely stressed populations, does may give birth to more buck fawns than does, and it is speculated this may be a natural population control measure. However, most research shows no correlation in this regard.

Besides, a doe giving birth to triplets is a good indication of a healthy population with plenty of food and probably few predators.

On an interesting side note: the Deer Lab at Auburn University has documented multiple paternity - twins, and even triplets - having different sires (fathers).

Given what we know about deer reproductive behavior and physiology, it's probably a fairly rare occurrence.

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