Mule Deer vs. Blacktail: All The Differences Between the Two

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mule deer vs blacktail deer

Though mule deer and black-tailed deer are members of the ” deer family,” it would be wrong to call them the same. In fact, several differences between the two set them apart. To help you understand what those differences are, we’ve put together this quick guide. So, without further ado, let’s take a closer look at mule deer vs. blacktail deer!

Size 

One of the most noticeable differences between these two types of deer is their size. Mule deer are considerably larger than black-tailed deer, with adults weighing around 200 pounds on average. On the other hand, black-tailed deer only weigh around 120 pounds on average as adults. This difference in size is easily observable and can be used to help distinguish between the two types of deer. 

Coloration 

Another critical difference between mule deer and black-tailed deer is their coloration. Mule deer are chocolate brown, with a white rump and belly. Black-tailed deer, however, are generally red-brown in coloration with a dark brown tail. This coloration difference can also help identify which type of deer you’re looking at. 

Diet 

Though mule deer and black-tailed deer are herbivores; their preferred diets differ somewhat. Mule deer prefer forage like grasses and herbs, while black-tailed deer prefer to browse like leaves and twigs. This diet difference is mainly due to their different digestive systems; mule deer have four-chambered stomachs that allow them to digest coarse plant material better, while black-tailed deer have three-chambered stomachs that work better for digesting finer browse. 

Habitat 

Another difference between these two types of deer is their preferred habitat. Mule deer are often found in open areas like sagebrush flats and meadows, while black-tailed deer are often found in wooded areas like forests and thickets. This difference in habitat preference is likely due to their different dietary needs; since mule deer prefer grasses and herbs, they need open areas to find these food sources, while black-tailed deer can find their preferred browse in more wooded areas. 

Antlers 

One of the most distinctive differences between mule deer and black-tailed deer is their antlers. Mule deer have much larger antlers than black-tailed deer, with adults typically sporting two feet long or more antlers.

On the other hand, on average, black-tailed deer only have antlers around one foot long. This difference in antler size is due to the different mating strategies of these two types of deer; mule deer use their large antlers to compete for mates, while black-tailed deer use their smaller antlers to defend themselves from predators.

Behavior 

Another difference between these two types of deer is their behavior. Mule deer are generally more active during the day, while black-tailed deer are more active at night. This difference is likely due to their different predators; mule deer have to worry about predators like coyotes and eagles during the day, while black-tailed deer have to worry about predators like bobcats and owls at night. 

Conclusion: 

As you can see, there are several crucial differences between mule deer and black-tailed deer. By familiarizing yourself with these differences, you’ll be able to tell these two types of deer better apart next time you see them!