Can You Own A Pet Deer?

Do deer make good pets? While you certainly can keep a pet deer, chances are you won’t be happy with it. Deer have complicated needs that you would have to meet. Additionally, there are legal aspects you should care about.

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Whitetail deer

Is It Legal To Own A Pet Deer?

While you may love the idea of having your very own whitetail deer or fawn, it is illegal in many states across the United States to own a pet deer or other exotic animal. Only a couple of states allow you to own a pet deer, such as a Sika deer, which looks like Bambi.

In Arkansas, you can own no more than six deer as pets [1]. In South Carolina, you can technically own a pet deer, but you will need a permit. 

Yet, most states do not allow you to own any cervids. For example, Alabama prohibits you from owning elk, caribou, deer, or a pet moose. Deer are considered wild animals, so most state governments do not support the idea of people owning potentially dangerous mammals.

Even if you do live in a state where pet deer are legal to own, there are many other reasons why you should not own pet deer. I discuss some of these reasons below.

Deer Aren’t Domesticated

Whitetail deer in the forest

I do think deer are adorable. Nonetheless, deer are wild animals and it is nearly impossible to truly domesticate this creature [2]. Deer are very similar to zebras in this respect, as pet zebras can take at least one year or more to domesticate and tame. As such, exotic animals are not great choices for pets.

It is possible to tame young deer and baby deer may be easier to manage. It may take extensive training to tame a deer much like it would take tons of coaching to prepare a pet camel for riding it. Yet, once deer grow older, they can become more dangerous and wild. 

For instance, when tame deer, specifically male deer, enter their breeding season, they may become more aggressive. These deer may even attack you or someone in your family. 

Since deer aren’t domesticated, they may use their antlers to injure you. Below, I further highlight how deer can be aggressive and dangerous animals.

Deer Can Be Aggressive and Dangerous

In the wild, deer, such as the Muntjac deer, can be rather aggressive and dangerous, especially during the mating season [3]. These animals can be territorial and will attack people or other creatures if they mess with their food, mating, or fawns.

Deer have also been known to eat the crops and plants in people’s backyards. I know I’ve seen deer in my yard eating my tomato plants. Usually, deer are most aggressive at two times of the year. When their fawns are young babies, deer will attack you if you get anywhere near their offspring.

As such, I try to avoid deer outdoors, especially young fawn, from the early spring to the early summer. Furthermore, the mating season of deer is from late fall to early winter, which is when deer are more aggressive and potentially dangerous. 

Attacks from bucks are more common during mating season, so you should avoid deer during this period. 

Pet Deer Need Lots of Living Space

Deer on grass

Pet deer need extra living space compared to much smaller and more domesticated animals. I know that I do not have the amount of space deer need and most people are in the same boat. If you don’t have acres of land for pet deer, you should avoid getting this wild animal as a pet.

Not only will you need a large area for deer to roam about, but you’ll need a forested space for your pet deer [4]. Keeping deer confined in a small space raises their likelihood of diseases such as bovine tuberculosis or chronic wasting disease. 

As such, it is a bad idea to keep deer confined instead of letting them have a large space to live in. Tamed deer cannot be released into the wild because they won’t know how to defend themselves.

Veterinary Care May Be Unavailable for Wild Animals

You may find that veterinary care for exotic and wild animals is nearly nonexistent. Veterinarians may not be available to treat pet deer. There may be only a few veterinarians available to provide treatment for deer across an entire state. 

This can be problematic if you purchase a pet deer that gets sick. Furthermore, animals can get an illness from people, so exposing deer to humans could be dangerous and require veterinarian care if they become ill.

Essentially, it is uncommon to find a veterinarian who can treat exotic pets like deer or a pet Pudu fawn. Those who are available are often rather expensive. Most vets provide care to domestic animals like dogs and cats. As such, you may want to avoid getting a deer as a pet.

You May Be Unaware of Deers’ Special Needs

If you decide to own a wild animal like a deer, you may not be aware of their special needs. When taking care of such an animal, you may not provide the correct food or give them too little food. This can cause health problems for your pet deer.

They also need enough water to stay healthy. Furthermore, if you keep deer confined in a smaller space even some of the time, the animal may not get enough exercise. This could lead to leg problems for your pet deer. Essentially, you may not have the right expertise to keep deer healthy. 

Are There Deer For Sale?

Fawn on grass

Despite the problems associated with owning a deer as a pet, you can purchase this animal through numerous websites and companies. You can go to bucktrader.com to buy a whitetail deer kid. These deer are for sale to people with farms or ranches.

The price of buying a buck or fawn ranges from $2,500 to $5,000 [5]. The cost of owning a deer goes far beyond this price, as you’ll need to ensure you have a large enough space for the animal and you’ll need to cover the costs of food and veterinarian care. 

Nonetheless, getting a pet deer is not a great idea, as you may not know how to best take care of this animal and deer are difficult to domesticate. For a deer’s overall well-being, avoid getting this pet.