Key Deer

The Key Deer is a small species (in population and in stature) of deer that lives in the Florida Keys. It is in the same family as the Virginia white tailed deer. The Key Deer is about 26 inches tall and weigh an average of about 55 pounds. The males have antlers, and the antlers grow in cycles. They drop their antlers at the beginning of spring, and they grow back by June. The deer feed on indigenous plants including the red mangrove, the black mangrove, and the white mangrove. The Key Deer can drink water with some salt in it, but needs fresh water to survive. Although it seems awkward, the Key Deer is a fairly good swimmer, and at times will swim from key to key.
The Key Deer are endangered for two main reasons, the first and most detrimental is the loss of habitat. The Everglades has been cleared away for highways, and other commercial developments, and it has caused a huge drop in the population of Key Deer, among other animals. Another big reason why Key Deer have been disappearing are the highways in southern Florida. You have heard the expression “like a deer in headlights”, and it is used because when deer see headlights, it freezes. This, although it makes for a good simile, causes a lot of road kill accidents with Key Deer.
The National Key Deer Refuge was opened to breed Key Deer, and since its opening, the population has increased by almost %600!!! Also, Ms. Riskin, please make sure that you do not feed any Key Deer, because it causes them to be comfortable around humans, which sounds nice, but it is part of the reason that they hang around near the highway. So, that just about sums it up; thanks for not feeding Key Deer, and keep your foot on those breaks.


“Key Deer” February, 2000
Kirkpatrick, Charles M. “Deer” The World Book Encyclopedia. Volume D, 1986
R., Austin. “Key Deer” February, 2000