How Smart Are Deer in Relation to Other Types of Animals?
We are able to determine the intellect and mental capacity of some animals, such as chimpanzees, ravens, rats, and elephants, via the use of intelligence-assessment instruments and emotional intelligence tests.
However, what about the deer? To what degree do deer possess intelligence?
Although deer cannot solve problems like chimpanzees or do mathematical calculations like horses, honeybees, or bears, this does not imply that they are in any way less intelligent than these other species.
They are clearly intelligent in their own right, but to what extent is that intelligence manifested?
Are Deer Smart?
Because we do not yet have a reliable way to measure the level of intellect possessed by deer, there is no simple response to this issue.
They are not quite as intelligent as dogs, which is to be expected given the diversity of the animal kingdom, but neither are they to be considered “dumb.”
When it comes to ensuring their continued existence, deer rely heavily on their senses, notably their acute sense of smell.
There are 297 million olfactory receptors in a whitetail deer’s nose, which is comparable to a dog’s 300 million receptors.
Not only can deer use their acute sense of smell to locate food, but it also enables them to identify the existence of potential dangers and move away from them.
Because of this advantage, deer are already inherently more intelligent than humans. Because humans only have 7 million, there is no way to even begin to compare the two.
However, when compared to other wild animals, deer lack the vision and hearing capabilities of other species.
The hearing range of a deer is comparable to that of a person, spanning from 20 Hz to 20 kHz, but it also has the capacity to pick up noises that fall into the low ultrasonic spectrum.
Although it may seem spectacular, it is not quite as impressive as some of the other species that are out there.
They have eyesight that is just 20 out of 100, which isn’t the greatest either. This indicates that at a distance of 20 feet, deer have vision comparable to that of a person at 100 feet.
However, it is not fair to judge someone’s IQ based on their sight, smell, or hearing.
It’s true that deer don’t have the finest senses (they can’t hear), but when it comes to their capacity to adapt and their response speed, they are the actual masterminds of the animal kingdom.
After all, they are able to effectively adjust to periods of food scarcity, know how to avoid potentially harmful circumstances, and recognize when they need to protect themselves.
So all in all, deer have intellect befitting four-legged animals. They are not very bright, but they do not need complex thought in order to do daily tasks like as eating grass, searching for berries, reproducing, or sleeping.
The fact that they have not become extinct after years of hunting indicates that they are, at the very least, maintaining healthy lifespans that allow them to have offspring that feed on grass.
How Smart Are Deer?
Although all deer possess some degree of intellect, not all deer have the same amount of intelligence.
Like people, deer have individual personalities. Some are naturally inquisitive and will infiltrate human settlements with the same bravado as a lion in the wild, while others are cautious and distrustful and will try to have as little interaction with humans as possible.
The former are considerably more likely to perish than the later, which is why people commonly refer to the former as the “stupid” ones.
They are the same kind of deer who, when they saw dead corpses on the side of the road, would ignore all of the caution signs and run directly into oncoming traffic.
In many cases, their degrees of intellect (or lack thereof) are determined by factors like as their age, testosterone levels, the amount of time they have spent interacting with people, and their own distinct personalities.
The proverb that “knowledge comes with age” certainly applies in this situation. It is often far more difficult to hunt older deer than it is to hunt younger deer. This is not because older deer are quicker or stronger than younger deer; rather, it is because their wariness and hypervigilance enable them to survive hunting seasons.
And if they are fortunate enough to have offspring, their offspring will inherit the genes that promote adaptive behaviors and survival strategies.
Having said that, it is common knowledge that hunting deer is simpler than hunting other wild animals.
Their feeding places, transit routes, and sleeping placements are simply so obvious that they could very much take us straight to them.
In addition to this, they often move about throughout the day, which makes it much simpler to notice them.
If deer were actually clever, you’d think they’d be able to better conceal their footprints, but that’s not the case. They will not be vulnerable to being hunted in this manner.
However, deer do not possess such a level of foresight. They do not possess the same capacities for critical thinking and metacognitive thinking as we have. They are able to overcome challenges and get away from predators, but that is the extent of their capabilities.
However, this does not imply that they are in any way “stupid.” This just serves to further demonstrate that deer are far more sophisticated than we give them credit for.
There is no meaningful method to gauge their level of intelligence at this point in time. We have not yet been able to monitor their cognitive capacity in a controlled setting. The EQ scale, which evaluates a creature’s intellect based on the volume of its brain, is the only other method we have.
How high is the encephalization level of deer?
The Encephalization Quotient (EQ), which is often referred to as the Encephalization Level (EL), is a metric that evaluates the intelligence of various species according on the size of their brain as well as the raw brain-to-body mass ratio.
However, this assessment only applies to mammals; we have not yet discovered a way to determine the level of intelligence possessed by other groups of creatures.
The following equation is used to determine an individual’s EQ:
EQ equals Brain Mass divided by 0.12 times Body Weight multiplied by 0.66
The average human has a brain mass that is about six times bigger than that of a normal animal, giving them an EQ that is close to six.
The EQ of a deer is 1, which indicates that they have a level of intellect that is comparable to humans.
In order to put that into perspective, three of the most intelligent dog breeds in existence—Border Collies, Standard Poodles, and German Shepherds—each have an EQ of 2.3, 2.2, and 3.1 respectively, which demonstrates intellect that is above and above that of the typical dog.
Are Wild Deer More Intelligent than Farm Animals Kept in Captivity?
Even while they aren’t quite as intelligent as chimps, raccoons, or elephants, deer are undeniably more perceptive than the majority of agricultural animals kept in household settings. It can’t be denied under any circumstances.
Because they are raised specifically for human use, such as cows, lambs, and chickens, domesticated animals have not had to worry about being hunted for hundreds or even thousands of years.
As a direct consequence of this, their natural impulses to survive have been severely compromised.
If they were allowed to fend for themselves in the wild, they would either perish from starvation or be devoured by wild coyotes before they could even utter the word “baa.”
Deer don’t have such disadvantage. They have never been domesticated, so they have always had to fend for themselves and learn how to get food on their own.
In addition, as compared to the majority of farm animals, deer have a superior sense of, well, everything. This includes their sense of smell, hearing, and yes, even their vision, which is very limited.
Even when the wind and snow are blowing, deer can detect the scent of impending danger from kilometers away. They would go into hiding as soon as they were aware that a dangerous animal was in the area.
If you do not hit the adult buck with your shot or if it runs away from you, it will be quite tough to find it again. The buck will continue to stay in the general vicinity, but it will be on very high alert due to your presence. It will remain hidden some distance away from your platform until you move to a different location.
The same cannot be true for animals kept as pets or in a home.
Is the Intelligence of Deer Superior to That of Dogs and Cats?
Dogs and cats are more intelligent than deer in a number of ways, and this is one of those ways. They are capable of problem solving and learning new things in ways that deer can only dream of doing.
This is made much worse by the fact that dogs, namely hunting dogs such as Border Terriers, Beagles, and Bloodhounds, are often employed to hunt deer. This makes the problem even worse.
The fact that these canines are capable of effortlessly outwitting and chasing down a deer until the animal is weary not only demonstrates their intellect but also demonstrates their ability to hunt.
It would seem that the extent of a deer’s intellect is restricted to the ability to conceal itself when it catches a smell of a predator or when it hears firearms being fired during hunting season.
On the other hand, many who keep deer as pets claim that they may be taught to do various tasks. They even go so far as to argue that it is simpler to teach them than it is dogs.
However, there is not enough data for us to claim with absolute certainty that deer have a higher intellect than dogs and cats. It has been hypothesized that canines and felines are theoretically more intelligent than deer.
Intelligence Observed In Deer
As opposed to crows, hyenas, and bears, deer are uncomplicated animals that do not need the ability to solve complex problems. They have four primary activities: eating, breeding, hiding from predators (including human hunters), and sleeping.
However, there were moments when the deer would do things that would make our human heads boggle.
As a result of the fact that intelligence in non-human animals cannot be evaluated using verbal measures, it must instead be gleaned from the following sources:
- Learning via social interaction
- Habit reversal
- Ability in solving problems and mathematics Reactions to unfamiliar situations
- According to the information provided in the book Whitetail Savvy written by Leonard Lee Rue III in 2013, some of these are seen in deer.
When he saw a deer covertly hiding in an ancient root cellar, it was one of the most interesting things he noticed on his travels.
The deer had spent practically the whole of the hunting season in the root cellar, where trail cameras proved they had done so because they knew they would be safe from hunters there.
After the shooting season was over, the deer continued on with his life as if he hadn’t already shown an extraordinary capacity for survival.
We can only speculate as to how the deer were able to know the precise location to conceal themselves throughout the shooting season.
During the hunting season, another doe hid behind a storm drain in order to avoid being discovered by hunters. The buck continued this behavior on a daily basis at around the same time for the same amount of time until the conclusion of the hunting season.
Deer have been seen navigating the intersection by some of the persons that have been there. They had apparently discovered that automobiles would slow down and halt when approaching a crossing, and as a consequence, they had taken use of the crosswalks.
This demonstrates that deer possess the cognitive capacity to encode as well as remember the acts that are carried out by people.
What is the Main Distinction Between Deer Intelligence and Deer Instinct?
If you look at the examples I gave above, you’re undoubtedly thinking if they demonstrate the intellect of deer or whether they’re simply exhibiting their natural urge to survive. In point of fact, it’s a little of both.
An intrinsic, predetermined pattern of action that is carried out in response to certain inputs from the outside world is an example of instinct. There is no way to teach instinct; it can only be inherited. It is this instinct that allows deer to thrive in the wild and avoid perilous circumstances.
On the other hand, intelligence lends a degree of adaptability to the ever-shifting circumstances of the environment, which is an extremely beneficial trait to possess.
It is not instinctual behavior when a deer alters its activities in response to individual experience; for example, hiding in a shed during hunting season, crossing a crosswalk, or exhibiting other out-of-the-ordinary traits. These are examples of intelligent behavior.
Even while it is not a significant amount in comparison to people (or other animals, such as dogs or chimps), we cannot completely disregard it.
The white-tailed deer is one of the most adaptable types of game animals that may be found in North America.
Despite the fact that they are unable to think, plan, or come up with ideas, they are nonetheless intelligent enough to locate food, mates, and a route through the woods where they can safely hide from predators.
This is more than sufficient evidence of the intellect possessed by organisms with four legs.
Do Deers Make Good Pets?
Deer have an intellect about equivalent to humans, with an EQ somewhere around 1. They have a strong capacity for survival and are able to adapt to almost any circumstance. But does it imply that they are suitable as pets?
It is against the law in the majority of states to keep a deer as a pet, and for good reason.
When released into the wild, captive-bred deer have a very low probability of surviving on their own.
The vast majority of a deer’s ability to survive in the wild is acquired via experience, and domesticated deer are shielded from the harsh elements of the natural environment.
Even though it is not against the law to keep them as pets, it does not change the fact that they are not suitable companion animals.
As fawns, they are easily domesticated and may be taught to obey simple directions; but, once they reach the stage when they are no longer infants, they are almost impossible to control.
Deer that have been domesticated and deer that have been kept in captivity are both capable of turning into ferocious monsters when they are guarding their young and have been known to attack people during the mating season.
In addition, male deer have enormous antlers that are capable of penetrating the skin and causing severe injuries. They are far more powerful than they seem and won’t think twice about attacking if they perceive that they are in danger.
Do not take in a fawn that has been “abandoned” even if you locate one. Just give them some space. It’s probable that the mother will come back, and if she does, she won’t be happy to find you hanging around with her beloved child.
Notify your local Fish and Wildlife Department if the mother does not return within two to three days, or if you hear it calling for two to three days in a row, regardless of whether or not she does return.
The fawn will be taken in by trained staff members who will nurture it in captivity until it is old enough to survive on its own. After that, it will be let free.
A Few Parting Thoughts
The answer to the question “how intelligent are deer?” is somewhat up to interpretation. There is no genuine method to determine the level of intelligence possessed by deer other than by testing their EQ, which only provides approximative findings at best.
However, based on how they behave under precarious circumstances, we may deduce that they have an intellect level comparable to that of humans.
They are not smarter than dogs, cats, or even pigs, but they are smarter than cultivated agricultural animals like cows and sheep. They are not, however, smarter than wild animals.