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The Rarest Deer Ever?

Back To "Ask The Biologist?"Have you ever seen a silver deer with yellow eyes?!

QUESTION: Bob, have you ever seen a deer like this?  This buck had silver hair and lemon-yellow eyes. — Josh L.

The Rarest Deer Ever?

ANSWER: We get a lot of questions about different deer pelage (fur color). A whitetail’s pelage varies seasonally, from red in the summer to brownish-gray in the fall. Fall colors can also vary among individuals as different shades of brown and gray.

Then there are genetic mutations.

The most common is called a piebald, in which deer have varying degrees of white markings — more than a typical whitetail, but still having brown eyes and soft parts like the nose and hooves.

Less common are true albinos, which lack dark pigment and have all white hair, white or tan hooves and pink eyes and noses.

Rarer still are melanistic deer, which have dark, almost black coat.

Your deer doesn’t seem to fit any of those categories, and is so unusual that I consulted several whitetail experts. Most were unfamiliar with it, but one finally provided some insight.

Dr. Karl Miller, Professor of Wildlife Ecology and Management at the University of Georgia’s Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, described it as “occasionally reported but extremely rare.”

He added that they had a similar one in their deer pens several years ago, although she was more blonde than silver. 

What was more interesting is that the doe reverted to normal coloration in subsequent years, leaving little clue as to what caused her condition — diet, disease, sunspots?

Miller also added this phenomenon is so rare there’s no name for it. So I made one up.

Henceforth, any such deer shall be referred to as a “Silver Deer.”

Regardless, you should have this one mounted, and I wish your taxidermist good luck finding the right color eyes.

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