Ask The Biologist

Not Quite Bambi

Not Quite Bambi

By Bob Humphrey

Be careful about ascribing human traits to deer.

QUESTION: I was watching a doe and her fawns feeding in a field. All of a sudden one of the fawns bolted halfway across the field, stopped and then ran back. Then the other fawn started running around like it was being chased, but I could not see anything chasing it. The doe just stood and watched and didn’t seem to be very alarmed. Is it possible the fawns were just playing?

ANSWER: To say they were playing is anthropomorphic – ascribing human characteristics to animals – and only works for children’s nature documentaries and animated movies.

While it’s not a conscious act like humans, young animals do sometimes engage in what we might call playing. Running, leaping and dodging for no apparent reason helps them build muscle tone and dexterity for when there is a reason – like escaping prey.

— Recent Ask the Biologist Question:

Tale of the Tail: A deer’s tail serves multiple survival functions. Find Out The Answer!

Copyright 2022 by Buckmasters, Ltd.

Copyright 2020 by Buckmasters, Ltd