White-tailed deer live in Costa Rica, too.
If you’re from anywhere from central Canada down to Peru and Bolivia, it’s the same species of deer that you see around your yard. There are 26 subspecies, meaning there are a bunch of different populations that are a little bit different.
Some populations are bigger than others or some other physical characteristics are different, but they all still comprise one species (Odocoileus virginianus) because they can interbreed. That is, if you grabbed a white-tailed deer from Peru and one of the opposite sex from Canada, they could successfully make a baby deer.
The population of white-tailed deer that live in Costa Rica are a lot smaller than the deer living in the U.S. and Canada. The average white-tailed deer in Costa Rica weighs 65 pounds or 30 kilograms.
The average white-tailed deer in the US ranges from 125 – 225 pounds or 56 – 102 kilograms. The difference in size is influenced by temperature. Animals in colder climates benefit from a larger body size.
I’m from Pennsylvania, and I’ve noticed a few other differences between Tico white-tails and the deer from the Great Commonwealth of PA. The deer in Pennsylvania travel in much larger herds. I was home for Christmas last year and 22 deer ran out in front of my car. I’ve never seen anything like that in Costa Rica.
I believe the largest group of deer that I’ve ever recorded on my camera traps is 5. The most frequent videos are of 1 to 3 deer running around in the forest, doing deer stuff.
Another difference I’ve noticed is that in the U.S. (or at least northeastern US), you will see groups of deer feeding out in the open, munching grass in a cow pasture or finishing off some kernels of corn in a recently harvested field.
In Costa Rica, I very infrequently catch a glimpse of a deer out in the open. Although very common along the coast of Guanacaste where I live, my normal deer sightings involve flushing a startled deer under the cover of the forest while checking camera traps.
Since they are harder to see in Costa Rica, the difference in people’s reactions is notably different from your everyday Pennsylvanian’s. In PA, if you see a deer, you say something like ‘Hey there’s some deer over there’ or ‘There are some deer up ahead don’t smash them with your car.’
In Costa Rica, if you see a deer, it’s more of an accomplishment. One that you should probably get a cellphone video of and post on social media.
And that social media post will elicit a very strong positive response with lots of comments with all the wonderful ways Ticos call something pretty – ‘¡Qué belleza Díos Mio!’ or ‘Qúe cosita más linda. ¡Hermosísima!’ and other fun things like that.
Costa Rica’s appreciation for white-tailed deer has elevated my excitement for deer videos when I check my camera traps. Take a look at the following video and see if you feel the love, too.
About the Author
Vincent Losasso, founder of Guanacaste Wildlife Monitoring, is a biologist who works with camera traps throughout Costa Rica. Learn more about his projects on facebook or instagram. You can also email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org