6 Deer Species That Are Kept as Pets

6 Deer Species That Are Kept as Pets

Melissa cares for a variety of exotic animals and has completed a certificate in veterinary assisting and a bachelor's degree in biology.

Deer as Pets

Interest in keeping deer as pets might have risen in popularity among the general public due to the old Disney film Bambi and the recent movie Frozen. Deer can be cute, but can they really be kept as pets?

In the United States, most captive deer are ranch-raised, and this can be considered a type of pet ownership. However, they are typically bred for their meat or for the purpose of providing hunting opportunities in large preserves. Raising deer can prove more profitable than traditional livestock because they consume less fodder, are less damaging to pastures, mature faster, and can reproduce for 20 years in captivity.

Some people do keep deer as private pets, however. There is one small species, the muntjac deer, that can be kept as a house pet in a similar vein as a dog. Those who are lucky enough to live in a state where keeping native deer is legal sometimes find themselves adopting abandoned wild white-tailed deer. Deer can actually make wonderful pets with the right owners. When they are raised by humans and socialized with humans, they are not "wild animals."

1. Sitka Deer

Best exotic pet? In a recent study, Dutch scientists analyzed 90 mammal species for pet "suitability" in response to a Dutch national animal welfare policy that took effect in 2013. The policy stated that people can only own "production" animals or animals that require no special knowledge or skills. Through statistical methods, they determined that the "best pets" outside of dogs, cats, and other conventional pets are the sika deer, agile wallaby, Tamar wallaby, llama, and Asian palm civet.

This might be due to the calm nature of sitka deer which make them popular pets for a deer species. Nara Park, Japan is a famous landmark where deer from the adjacent park roam freely and are comfortable enough to approach humans.

  • Sitka deer have been introduced to different areas as both an ornamental and game species.
  • They have spots into adulthood
  • They can live up to 25 years
  • As a very social species, if they are kept alone, they will need a lot of attention and socialization.

2. Muntjac Deer

Muntjac deer are one of the few species of deer, and probably the only obtainable one, that can be kept as house pets because they reach the size of a medium-sized dog. Unlike other deer species, this is exactly what they tend to be kept for. While they can be kept outside and some breeders recommend that, they are compact, clean, and well-mannered enough to live in the home of a 'tolerant' pet owner. These deer, like all deer, do tend to chew on things, so destruction to furniture and carpeting is likely to occur. Muntjac deer owners do however report that they can be trained to use a litter box.

  • The most common species of muntjac is the Reeves muntjac, but sometimes the smaller leaf muntjac is also kept.
  • These deer actually have protruding "fangs," which are canine teeth. They also have scent glands on their head that they enjoy rubbing on their owners.
  • They and their droppings have very little odor.
  • This is a very affectionate exotic pet.

Deer Legality

If you are seriously considering a deer as a pet, it is important to find out if they are legal in your area. This information might not be available online, or can be addressed by another law when they appear to be legal with another exotic pet law. For instance, North Carolina's pet possession ordinance has a short list of prohibited species that does not include deer; however they are strictly illegal under another law due to attempts to prevent the introduction of chronic wasting disease, an illness only deer can catch that devastates wild populations. Always check to see if there are bans on deer as pets due to CWD or restrictions under other wild game laws.

3. Axis Deer

Axis deer, also known and chital, cheetal, or spotted deer, originate from India. They are sexually dimorphic because the females don't have antlers and are smaller than the males. These deer are very popular with hunters and are commonly ranch raised for the purpose. Populations of the deer were intentionally introduced to the Hawaiian islands of Molokai. Maui, and Lanai to increase hunting opportunities which has been damaging to the environment. In 1932, they were also introduced to Texas.

  • Axis deer are a commonly ranched deer species, and their populations in the United States are highest in Texas.
  • These deer are grazers that may browse for food if grass is not in sufficient quantities.
  • They are disease-resistant in ranches and do not require de-worming or inoculations.

4. Reindeer

Reindeer, also known as caribou, are the only deer species that have populations considered to be domesticated. While wild caribou are traditionally hunted for meat in some cultures, domestic reindeer populations (sometimes called 'semi-domesticated) are herded and provide milk, meat, hides, and transportation for people in Arctic regions.

  • In the winter, they mainly eat lichens
  • In captivity, they should be fed a commercial diet of grain and roughage. They are very sensitive to changes in their diet.
  • They are the only animals except for some gastropods in which the enzyme lichenase has been found.
  • The use of reindeer as semi-domesticated livestock in Alaska was introduced in the late 19th century by the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service as a means of providing a livelihood for Native peoples there.

5. White-Tailed Deer

White-tailed deer are naturally occurring in many areas of the United States, sometimes even being considered to be pests. Unfortunately, they are often victims of car collisions and can cause conflicts with humans for their incredible fence-jumping abilities that they use to raid ornamental plants and gardens. These deer are also farmed for meat, but many people keep them as outdoor pets. Some game farms even sell specimens that are completely white.

White-tail deer can make great pets, but unfortunately, being native wildlife, they are illegal to own in most states, especially if they come from the wild. There have been numerous situations where people have stumbled upon orphaned fawns, raised them successfully, and then were subjected to animal control confiscating and killing their well-loved pet. If these deer cannot be released into the wild and if no licensed wildlife rehabilitator can take them (those who specialize in deer are less common) they will automatically be euthanized. This law should be changed.

  • Hand-raised deer can be very tame; however, males can become aggressive during rut.
  • Mother white-tailed deer will often leave their fawns alone when they search for food, so make sure a seemingly abandoned fawn is actually abandoned
  • Many human-raised deer will remain in the vicinity of their human caretakers. One deer, confiscated by animal control after someone reported the owners for keeping the native deer, was released into the wild only to walk the 50 miles back to its real home.

6. Fallow Deer

Native to Western Eurasia, fallow deer are also a commonly-ranched, spotted, and sexually dimorphic species (only the males have antlers). They are frequently kept in estates, parks, and zoos. They are a calm species that readily adapt to captive situations. They've been domesticated as early as 9th century BC. Because they can't breed with other deer species, they are less regulated in some states.

  • They live 15-25 years
  • Because they can jump up to 7 feet, 8-foot fences are needed to fence them in
  • They will thrive on any pasture that can support other commonly kept ungulates.
  • Aside from being raised for their meat, fallow deer produce the renewable crop of antler velvet, which is popular in Asian markets.
  • They cannot contract or transmit chronic wasting disease and are resistant to many diseases that devastate other deer species.

© 2017 Melissa A Smith

Mari on August 18, 2020:

Can I get one in Minnesota?

Crystal workman on August 10, 2020:

lisen i had a pet deer and dnr took her from me but they wont show me the proof like the video yhey said they had of her hurting a woman. i live in wv.

Sophia on August 07, 2020:

can i get one in Kansas and how do I find a seller?

Love animals on June 30, 2020:

I love deers but i cant have a pet

Dragon on May 09, 2020:

Madison same!

Madison on April 23, 2020:


Janeh Mustafa on April 02, 2020:


Faith on February 26, 2020:

We are probably gonna get a white tail deer

❤️Deer_LoVER on January 13, 2020:

Either a Reindeer or a Fallow Deer

❤️Deer_LoVER on January 13, 2020:


Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on January 05, 2020:

Big boi What kind?

Big boi on January 05, 2020:

I’m getting one

Gregg Friedman MD on December 18, 2019:

There is a Federally protected species of tiny deer that live on Big Pine Key near Key West. By Gregg L. Friedman MD

Cosette Henderson on October 20, 2019:

My dad will have to buy a deer

Lisa Courtney on September 05, 2019:

And the most famous deer of all, beside Rudolph? I do believe the actress Audrey Hepburn was known to have a pet deer or fawn. I've always wanted one; they are my totem animal, and that says a lot about me haha.

Eliza on May 08, 2019:

I don’t have a pet deer. However, I have a pet tiger!

Dr bob on April 17, 2019:

I want one !!!!!!!!!

Alexandra keith on February 20, 2019:


Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on March 15, 2018:

That's not a deer. If you know of someone keeping one let me know, and where they got it.

Val on March 15, 2018:

You forgot the mouse deer

anonymous on November 28, 2017:

An excellent article and I can assume you are getting frustrated because these people are attacking you out of ignorance I also would like an article on muntjac deer.

Elizabeth on November 27, 2017:

Do you have any info on Muntjac deer like care, feeding, and legality because it is seemingly difficult to find it if I can get you the law can you decipher it.

Types of Pets

Choosing the Best Pets - What Pet is Right for me? German Shepard - A favorite large dog breed

Finding "what pet is right for me", is the key to fun and successful pet ownership!

The best pets are those that make great companions. There are many different types of pets that could be right for you and be a wonderful complement to your life. Your pet choice should be based on what sort of animal suits your personality, works best with your lifestyle, and matches your needs.

If you know you want a pet, but aren't sure which would be best for you, this guide can help. The perfect pet will be unique to you and finding it can be a fun and rewarding experience. Hundreds of people have told me their stories of about how they came to own their pets, and how they have changed their lives for the better. Passionately expressing their feelings of love and devotion, they speak of their pets as if they were members of the family – and for all intents and purposes, they truly are.

Not every animal may be right for you, so let's walk through the kinds of questions to ask when choosing a pet. The needs and temperaments of animals vary greatly, as do those of the people who keep them. For example, some animals are better suited to pet keepers living in small quarters, such as apartments. Others will do best on very large properties, or where they have lots of room to romp and play, and many pets fall somewhere in the middle.

As you explore the questions below you'll discover which animals are suitable for each situation, this will narrow down your selections and help you make the right pet choice. Whether it’s a commonly kept pet such as a dog, cat or goldfish, a colorful and talkative parrot, or perhaps a scurrying lizard or fun-loving potbellied pig, the animal you choose can bring you years of entertainment and happiness.

To see all the types of pets, visit the Animal-World main page.

When it comes to the types of animals that can be kept as pets, there are many to choose from.

    Dogs and Cats
    Dogs and cats are the most common types of pets. They are the animals most people consider first, and they make some of the best pets. That’s because they have been kept as pets for thousands of years, making them well domesticated and easy to train.

There are many types of dogs and cats available. There are numerous breeds to choose from, each with its own unique characteristics and temperament. Mixed breeds that are in need of a loving home can make a good pet choice too, and are readily available from your local shelter.

Dogs and cats are generally simple to care for, and you can find all of the food and supplies you’ll need at your local pet store, grocery or discount store.
Other Types of Pets
Dogs and cats are just the tip of the iceberg. There are many lesser-known animals that come with certain advantages that can actually make them the best pets. For instance, renters may not be allowed to keep dogs or cats, or may have to pay a large deposit to keep them. However, landlords are not generally concerned with small aquatic and caged animals, because they are less messy and unlikely to cause property damage.

You can find all sorts of animals at local pet stores, from specialized breeders or through online retailers.

Best pets for my lifestyle

When choosing a pet, one of the most important things to consider is your lifestyle. Different types of pets require different amounts of attention and care, and any pet you choose should fit well into your daily schedule.

When making a pet choice, you’ll also need to determine just what you want out of a pet. Are you looking for a cuddly companion, a playmate, or a pet you can observe that doesn’t require a great deal of interaction?

It’s important to consider the others in your household as well. Their personalities and schedules will also be factors in your decision. If you have children, you’ll need a pet that is easygoing and playful. The best pets are those that will fit in well with your family, so you might need to do some compromising.

Considerations for choosing a pet

When taking on the responsibility of a pet, you and each member of the family must be willing to commit to providing a good home for it. Find out how much time each family member can devote to the pet. Discuss each person’s responsibilities for the animal’s care, feeding, grooming, exercise, socialization and training. Determine who will be responsible for the expenses involved, and make certain that every need for the pet you’re considering will be met.

Consider the following questions about yourself before committing to a pet.

  1. Home
    Do you live in the city, suburbs or out in the country? How much space do you have indoors and out?
  2. Activities
    Are you the active type, or is your time spent at home of a sedentary nature? Are you looking for an exercise companion or a pet to keep you company while you do things around the house?
  3. Physical Condition
    Are you physically capable of taking care of the type of pet you’re considering? Caring for a large animal or one with extensive habitat needs can be physically demanding.
  4. Time
    Do you spend much time at home? Some pets need someone with them most of the time, especially when they are young. Others can be left alone for long periods of time.
  5. Money
    What is your budget? This is a very important consideration, because all pets require some degree of financial commitment. You’ll have to pay for food, housing and other daily needs, as well as veterinary care and any special needs your pet may have. These costs vary considerably from animal to animal.

Characteristics of the perfect pet

One of your primary considerations in your pet choice will be whether you’ re looking for a companion, a worker or a show animal. Pets come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, colors and species. Carefully considered your reasons for getting a pet, and the answer to the question “what pet is right for me” will start to emerge.

  • Companion Animals
    Companion animals may stay indoors all the time, spend time outside, or even go with you on outings and trips. They can range from fish and reptiles to birds to active dogs or horses. Companion animals are as varied as their owners’ personalities.
  • Working Animals
    Working animals are kept for purposes such as guiding the blind, herding sheep or hunting. When you’re looking for a working animal, your options will be narrower than if you were looking for a companion. Still, it’s important to carefully consider the breed and its needs.
  • Show Animals
    Show animals require extra care, grooming and training. If you’re considering such an animal, you should be prepared to take on a major commitment. The rewards of owning such an animal are numerous, but so are the costs and responsibilities.

Narrowing down to your pet choice

When choosing a pet you can now narrow down your choices. From above, you've considered your lifestyle, the amount of space you have, and your budget. You also know the amount of time you and your family can commit to the new addition. And you have determined what you want from a pet. So now. you can get to the fun part, choosing the perfect pet for your home and family.

Narrow down you pet choices based on what you've learned:

  1. Your needs
    First pick out animals that are suitable for you.
    Make a broad selection base on what you've considered are your personal preferences and needs. What you've determined about yourself, your lifestyle, and your family's needs will point to suitable animals.
  2. Pet needs
    Next refine your selection based on the animals needs.
    Research each animal on your list. You will see that not all animals are not suitable for every situation. For example dogs with thick fur are more difficult to keep in warmer climates without special considerations.
  3. Available Pets
    Lastly, determine which selections are available.
    Not all animals may be available to you or may be more difficult to obtain. Keeping certain types of pets is illegal in some states and cities. Some require special permits or licensing. If you want to keep these types, you will have to check with your local and state authorities to find out what is required.

List of the types of pets

There are many kinds of animals you can choose from. This list will give you a great overview of all the different animals you can consider. Those with links will take you to a group containing the various species or breeds of that type. A few links go directly to an individual animal if it has no "group" it belongs to.

House pets: Indoor or indoor/outdoor

  • Small parrots: Parakeets, Cockatiels, Lovebirds, Conures, Lorikeets
  • Large parrots: Amazons, African Greys, Cockatoos, Macaws
  • Mid-sized parrots: Caiques, Eclectus, Pionus, Meyers Parrot, Red-bellied parrot, Senegal Parrot
  • Other types of parrots
  • Finches
  • Canaries
  • Doves and pigeons
  • Toucans, Mynah Birds
  • Pheasants, Quail
  • Falcons, Hawks, other birds of prey

Small Pets: Mammals and rodents:

  • Rabbits
  • Guinea pigs
  • Mice
  • Hamsters
  • Gerbils
  • Rats
  • Hedgehogs
  • Ferrets
  • Chinchillas
  • Squirrels
  • Sugar gliders
  • Other exotics: Degus

Herptiles: Reptiles, Amphibians, Land Invertebrates

  • Lizards: Agamids, Chameleons, Geckos, Iguanids, Monitors, Skinks, Tegus
  • Snakes
  • Amphibians: Frogs, Salamanders, etc.
  • Turtles
  • Tortoises
  • Arachnids: Tarantulas
  • Arthropods: Scorpions, Whip scorpions
  • Land Invertebrates: Centipedes, Crabs, Snails, etc.

  • Horses - Miniature Horses - Ponies
  • Burros
  • Goats
  • Llamas
  • Pot-bellied pigs
  • Aviary Birds, Ducks, Geese, etc.
  • Other Exotics

Author: Clarice Brough CAS

Copyright © [Animal-World] 1998-2020. All rights reserved.

E. coli Infection

Escherichia coli (E. coli) is a bacteria that normally is an important part of the healthy intestinal tracts of humans and animals. However, there are some kinds of E. coli that are harmful and can cause disease.

The most common type of E. coli infection that causes illness in people is called E. coli O157,

which produces a toxin known as Shiga-toxin. Shiga-toxin producing E. coli is abbreviated as STEC. Symptoms of infection with this germ include watery or bloody diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, nausea, and vomiting. The illness can be mild to severe. Young children are more likely to have severe problems with E.coli O157—including kidney failure—and can even die from E. coli O157 infections.

Animals that can spread E. coli O157 to humans include:

  • cows, especially calves
  • goats
  • sheep
  • deer.

How animals and people become infected

Most people become infected with E. coli O157 from contaminated food, such as

undercooked ground beef or raw (unpasteurized) milk, but E. coli O157 can be passed directly to people from the stool of young calves and adult cattle. E. coli O157 also can be spread from person to person, particularly in places where frequent and close contact between people occurs, such as day-care facilities.

E. coli O157 is naturally found in the intestinal tracts of many farm animals, including healthy cattle, sheep, and goats. Animals can carry E. coli O157 and shed the germs in their stool but still appear healthy and clean. The germs can quickly contaminate the animals’ skin, fur, feathers, and the areas where they live and roam.

Animals can appear healthy and clean but can spread E. coli O157 to humans or other animals.

What are the symptoms of an E. coli O157 infection?

Symptoms of E. coli O157 include:

  • watery or bloody diarrhea
  • fever
  • abdominal cramps
  • nausea
  • vomiting.

Symptoms usually occur 3 to 4 days after a person comes in contact with E. coli O157. Illness can range from mild to severe and life-threatening. Most people get better within 5 to 7 days. Young children infected with E. coli O157 are at highest risk for developing severe symptoms and complications, such as hemolytic uremic syndrome, which is a type of kidney failure.

If you develop any of the symptoms described above, contact your doctor and be sure to inform him or her of any recent contact that you have had with animals. Please visit CDC’s E.coli website for more information.

The best way to prevent getting E. coli from animals is to always wash your hands with soap and running water immediately after contact with animals, their environments, or their stool.

Do not:

  • Children 5 years of age and younger should not have contact with reptiles, amphibians, or live poultry because these animals are more likely to make them sick.
  • Don’t let children to put their thumbs, fingers, or objects (like pacifiers) in their mouths when they’re around animals or in an animal area.
  • Don’t let children sit or play on the ground in animal areas.
  • Never allow cows, goats, sheep, and deer in schools, nursing homes, or other facilities that may have children 5 years of age or younger, the elderly or people who have weak immune systems.
  • Avoid eating or drinking around animals known to spread E. coli or in areas where they live and roam.
  • Do not consume raw (unpasteurized) milk, unpasteurized dairy products, or unpasteurized juices, like fresh apple cider.

Available tests and treatments


Your doctor will request a stool sample to be tested if you are suspected to be infected with E. coli O157. Many labs can determine if the Shiga toxin is present, and most labs can identify the O157 bacteria itself. To figure out the specific strain of the bacteria, the stool sample will be sent off to a state public health laboratory for testing. This helps determine if your infection matches or doesn’t match any current outbreak strains of E. coli.

The best treatment for E. coli O157 infection is supportive therapy, making sure to drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated. There is no evidence that taking antibiotics or antidiarrheals (like Imodium®) is helpful, and these may actually increase the risk of a life-threatening complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS.

Treatment is not recommended for infected animals because they do

not usually show any signs of illness with E. coli O157.

However, if any pets or farm animals have diarrhea, they should be carefully watched for dehydration. If the diarrhea is severe, your veterinarian should be contacted. He or she may ask that you bring your pet in, or your veterinarian may come to see your farm animal to give fluids and restore hydration.

Chinese Water Deer

Chinese Water Deer are a non-native species introduced from Chinese populations along the Yangtze River where they are on the IUCN ‘red list’ as a vulnerable species. They are said to be the most primitive living member of the Cervidae family, in part because the buck carries large canine teeth or tusks and has no antlers, characteristics that other deer have evolved beyond. This makes the chinese water deer a biologically important animal.

Chinese water deer are the least common of the UK wild deer species, they are a territorial species and their distribution is largely limited to the Midlands and East Anglia. They have been in the country for longer than muntjac and have a potentially higher birth rate (usually twins or triplets) but although they are increasing in range, they are doing so far more slowly than muntjac.

Preferred habitats are woodlands next to grazing areas and more open and wet areas such as reed beds, boggy areas and river edges. They adapt readily to open areas of grassland such as agricultural fields and parks, and are often be seen out in daylight.

What Pets Are Legal in California?

Numerous pets are legal in California unless a law or regulation specifically states that a species of animal is illegal to keep as a pet. California's list of illegal pets is, however, one of the longest in the nation. Animals can be deemed illegal as pets in California because they are wild animals or because they could harm native wildlife or crops if they were released into the wild.

Many pets that are illegal in California are legal in other states. In general, any animal not specifically prohibited may be kept as a pet in California. Exotic animals that are permissible as pets in California include pygmy goats, miniature horses, potbelly pigs, tarantulas, lynxes, ball pythons and chinchillas.

According to SFGate, animals that are illegal as pets in California because they are threats to native wildlife include ferrets and African clawed frogs. Animals banned because they pose a danger to agriculture if released into the wild include monk parakeets.

Hedgehogs are among the pets that are illegal in California because they can pose a danger to their owners. Other such animals include tigers and other big cats, first generation wolf-dog hybrids, chimpanzees, caiman lizards, piranhas, bats, skunks, alligators and raccoons.

Other animals banned as pets in California for a variety of reasons include monkeys, sloths, anteaters, moles, lemurs, weasels, foxes, coyotes, bears, elephants, manatees, zebras, camels and deer.

Watch the video: Things you need to know about RED DEER