I thought for this months blog, I would change it up from property management to discussing deer glands.
As you know, deer having multiple ways they can communicate with each other. In this article, I am going to discuss the communication with the use of various glands.
The metatarsal gland is located on the surface of the rear leg on a deer. It looks like a dark pore. Research on Mule deer has shown that this gland is a source of “alarm pheromone”. Essentially alerting other deer of danger. Regarding Whitetails, there is no definite reasoning the role the metatarsal gland has.
This tarsal gland is one of the most “familiar” glands that people can identify. The location of the tarsal gland is under the tuft of hair on the inner surface of the hind leg. This gland largely plays a role in communicating dominance and readiness to breed. All deer, (primarily bucks) rub their tarsal glands together with urine. During the rut, bucks will do this over a scrape. The tarsal gland also secrete fat. The mixture of urine and fat gives the tarsal gland its dark color and musky odor.
The interdigital gland is located between the hoofs of a deer. You can’t see them unless you spread the hoof apart. The interdigital gland has a crucial role in deer communication. The interdigital gland releases pheromones that leave a scent when the deer is traveling. This scent allows deer to locate each other and identify each other. An interesting fact about the interdigital gland is fawns do not produce this scent until they are a few weeks old. This makes it difficult for predators to find them. Have you ever had a deer stomp its hoof at you? This stomping release interdigital scent, signaling other deer of possible danger.
The pre-orbital gland is located near the eyes of a deer. Deer will rub this gland on trees, bushes, etc. You will see an increase in this “rubbing” when the rut starts. Bucks will rub their pre-orbital gland on licking branches around scrapes. Deer will scent check these branches to identify what other deer have been there. Bucks will tend to use their tongue to add moisture to the branch which allows the scent to be detected more easily.
The forehead gland is located under the skin between the antlers and the eyes. Like the tarsal gland, the forehead gland releases scents and fat. During the rut, the hair on a buck’s forehead becomes darker as a result of the scents and fat secreting. Like the pre-orbital gland, bucks will use their forehead gland to communicate by rubbing on trees and branches. While the rubbing occurs, the forehead gland is releasing pheromones.