Why Do Baby Deer Have Spots?

There’s something charming about the white spots on the backs of baby deer, but it turns out that those spots serve an important purpose. The flecks effectively camouflage a fawn by mimicking patches of sunlight that shine through trees and other plants landing unevenly across the already-varied neutral hues on the forest floor. Without the strength or size needed to outrun a predator, a newborn fawn’s best bet for survival is to simply blend in with the scenery. When you see a fawn curled up among the foliage without a chaperone in sight, it’s hard to imagine a more vulnerable creature, but that solitude is actually another protection strategy. For the first few weeks of a fawn’s life, its mother generally only reappears to feed it or lead it to a new shelter. Because mature deer are easier to see and smell than their offspring, a doe’s absence helps mitigate the risk of drawing a predator straight to her baby. Once a fawn is capable of fleeing danger as fast as its mother, they start spending more time together. So, when do the white spots disappear from the fawns? There’s no hard-and-fast deadline for shedding the spotted fur, but most sources agree that the process typically happens when a fawn is somewhere around three or four months old. That said, some deer species never lose their spots — like the fallow deer, the axis deer, and the sika deer.