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Do Deer Eat Meat? (10 Things To Know)

Deer are herbivores, meaning that they only eat meat. Wrong, deer can and usually eat meat. Deer can consume various animals such as birds, rabbits, and squirrels.

They not only find meat tasty, but it also provides the nutrients they require. Are you seeking to know what type of deer eat meat, the type of meat they prefer, and the type they won’t eat?

In this article, we answer all the above questions and more. Ready, let us begin.

do deer eat meat

Raw vs. Cooked meat: What will deer like most?

Now that you already know that deer eat meat, it’s critical to determine if deer prefer raw meat to cooked meat.

Well, deer aren’t peaky eaters; they will munch on anything that they can get their jaws on.

However, considering that deer mostly live in the world, chances of them coming upon cooked meat are rare. A large amount of the meat they consume is raw.

Yet, there are recorded instances of deer happily eating cooked meat offered by humans. These cases, however, are few.

In addition, there hasn’t been a comprehensive study done on whether deer-like cooked raw or cooked meat.

While working at the Mississippi state university, Dr. Eric Michel surveyed how deer survive during drought seasons.

When asked whether deer preferred cooked or raw meat, she stated that deer are opportunistic feeders, meaning they will eat what is available.

Read Also: Do Deer Eat Bananas? (Explained)

Amount of meat deer can eat in a day.

Even though deer eat meat, they don’t do so often, mainly because of two factors.

The first one is that deer do not go hunting. Deer do not possess the ability to chase prey and kill it. Much of the meat a deer consumes it will have stumbled upon in the wild.

The second reason emanates from the earlier stated point by Dr. Michel that deer are opportunistic feeders; they will thus eat anything that does not offer much resistance, like running or fighting back.

It is nearly impossible to know exactly how much meat a deer can consume in a day regarding the above-stated points.

Nevertheless, we can estimate by looking at the amount of food a deer ingests daily. When there is plenty of plant foliage, a deer can consume up to 8% of its body weight.

Thus, an adult deer weighing about 152lb (68kg) translates to 8-12lb (4-5kg) per day. Consequently, they will eat meat in ounces at such a time, if any.

The amount may go higher during tough times like winter when food is scarce, where they eat more meat to avoid a calcium deficiency.

Do deer eat human meat?

Biologists are still researching all the types of meat that deer can eat. Top among their queries is to find out whether deer eat human meat, which they haven’t proven.

Some reported cases where planted cameras spotted deer at burial sites and a corpse farm.

One such case was recorded by forensic scientists, where they captured a white-tailed deer eating human remains.

The corpse had been in the open for about 182 days; thus, the meat had already decomposed. The only thing left were the bones. The deer was chewing on one of the bones.

The scientists explained the behavior as a deer’s way of obtaining minerals lacking in their diet.

What happens if deer eat meat?

Here the answer lies in the amount of meat the deer eats; in essence, a small amount of meat is okay. The deer’s stomach will easily digest it.

However, a problem will arise when deer consume large amounts of meat since their stomachs aren’t adapted to digest such.

You see, meat requires adequate enzymes and acid for proper digestion, which deer have in limited amounts.

Hence, a lot of meat will lead to a deer developing stomach problems and consequently malnutrition.

Do deer eat bones too?

From the findings of the forensic scientists that recorded a deer eating human bones, it is clear that they consume bones.

Although it is worth noting that deer don’t consume the entire bone, they only chew on it a bit to obtain nutrients. Moreover, deer prefer dry bones which have a rectangular cross-section.

Nutrients a deer can obtain from bones include calcium, phosphorous, and sodium. When food is scarce, deer have trouble getting such nutrients, so the bones provide a lifeline.

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Proof of deer eating meat

For most people, the mere thought of deer consuming meat is complex for them to accept. If you still doubt, below is a video clearly showing a deer eating a bird.

Here is a second video where a deer eats cooked meat

We have also created a table outlining the different types of deer that biologists have documented eating meat and those that they haven’t

Type of DeerWhether or not they eat meat
Roe Yes
FallowNo
ReindeerYes
ElkNo
MooseNo
TuftedNo
Indian MuntjacNo
Water deerYes
SambarNo
BarasinghaNo
TarucaNo
PuduNo
Marsh deerNo
White-tailed deerYes
Mule deerYes
SikaNo
Red deerYes

Please note that we only labeled “Yes” for the types of deer that scientists have documented proof of them eating meat. However, research is still ongoing, and who knows what researchers may find out.

Meat versus plants: What deer like the most & which is good for their body type?

Deer are herbivores mammals; essentially, plants make a large part of their diet, and it is with good reason.

Plants provide deer with essential nutrients they need for proper growth. These include

  •  Protein
  •  Vitamins
  •  Energy
  •  Minerals

Moreover, a deer’s stomach is adapted to easily digest plant foliage, meaning that they will experience more difficulty digesting meat. Grass also is difficult to digest but not like meat, if deer is hungry and cereal grasses are a choice then they would not touch the meat.

Deer also eat meat as a supplement to their diet, when food is scarce, or because they can.

Consequently, a deer will always choose plants over meat when food is plenty. To them, meat is somewhat like a tasty treat and not a requirement.

What type of meat do deer eat?

Again, we still don’t have a comprehensive list of all the types of meat that a deer can eat. Even so, biologists have recorded deer eating the meat of certain animal species.

The table below provides more information.

Type of animalWhether or not deer will eat it
FishYes
RabbitYes
AntsYes
Another deerYes
BirdsDeer will eat small birds, their hatchlings, and eggs. They like birds since they offer little resistance and are easy to find.

Can deer eat meat while pregnant?

You may have already learned that deer are opportunistic feeders; to them, anything goes, which is especially true for a pregnant doe.

She has to eat more to sustain the pregnancy to term. More food means higher amounts of nutritious foods, which she can get from plants.

However, when a doe comes across a carcass, she will not walk away; she will bite off some pieces of meat. The amount of meat that a doe eats while pregnant depends on the availability of plant foliage.

If there is adequate plant food, she will eat little meat, and the inverse is true.

Should we stay away from meat-eating deer?

Due to certain factors, humans have little to fear meat-eating deer.

Firstly, deer won’t actively go after a human often when a deer sees a human; their first instinct is to flee.

Secondly, when a deer attacks a human, which rarely happens, it will do so as an act of defense, not a way of predation.

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