Can You Have Deer as a Pet?

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If you can vividly recall the old Disney film Bambi and the recent one Frozen, you can attest that deer are indeed cute creatures, but can you have deer as a pet. Well, of course, they are adorable critters that can add aesthetic value to any surrounding. 

 Interest in keeping deer as pets is continuing to gain fame as people have realized easy ways to tame and coexist with them. Most captive deer in the US are ranch-based. Well, this can be termed as some sought of pet ownership.

Why Has Deer Farming Become So Popular?

Farming deer is considered more lucrative because they feed less fodder than traditional livestock. They also mature faster, cause less damage to pasture, and mature more quickly, whereby they can reproduce for twenty years in captivity.

 The number of people embracing deer as a private pet is now increasing more than ever. The Muntjac deer is a small species that many people love to keep as an indoor pet, similar to a dog. Keeping a native deer as a pet isn’t legal in all states. If you’re lucky and have this passion for adopting deer, you can consider other species, such as white-tailed deer.

Are Deer Dangerous? 

 It is rare for tamed deer to attack you or harm you in any way. However, it is not advisable to rear large bucks in your home and leave them roaming freely. The small-bodied deer is the best for a pet. Bucks can seem gentle in summer, but a surge in testosterone ahead of the rut can make them quite territorial and unpredictable.

 If your pet deer has sharp overgrown antlers, they can be very dangerous if they start reasoning with their real animal side. Hence, you have to consider the nature of the deer you want to tame and have safety measures put in place. 

If your deer is nursing, you should be careful because they can attack you to protect their young fawns. Some small-bodied deer are easy to handle as long as you provide the right food and groom them.

 With the right owners, deer can be wonderful pets. In fact, some versed researchers claim that a deer can learn some social behaviors just like other home pets. They are easy to tame if you adopt them at an early age as it is easy for them to learn how to live with humans. 

Is Deer Keeping Legal? 

If you are serious about deer keeping, it is crucial to consider your area’s legal restrictions. While this particular information might not be available online, it may not be addressed in other laws making it appear legal.

 A good example is the North Carolina pet possession ordinance with a whole list of prohibited species and excludes deer. However, deer are illegal in another law as a result of endeavors to prevent chronic wasting disease. Therefore, you should check whether your state has laws that ban deer as pets due to that disease or regulations under the wild game laws.

Keeping Deer as Pets

Design a Good Habitat for a Pet Deer

While deer can be dangerous, there are still ways you can prevent them from unleashing aggression. The first thing is to have open spaces for the deer to roam around. 

Also, you need to plant natural foliage to keep them nourished and make them feel at home. You should select woody vegetation during the cold months of winter as most deer food dries up during winter.

 The other important thing is to set troughs and feeders at a significant distance away from home. You should engage in deer rehab and conservation groups to ensure you familiarize yourself with the best practices for deer domestication.

Here are the deer species that can be kept as private pets.

6 Best Deer Species Kept As Pets

Muntjac deer

These are among the few deer species that can be made house pets and most likely the only obtainable. They learn social behaviors quite fast, and they reach the size of a medium-sized dog. Hence, they are ideal indoor and outdoor pets which you can keep to liven up your home. They are small, clean, and exceptionally well mannered if you train them to be so.  

However, just like other deer, they love to chew things up. Destruction of furniture, mats, upholstery is likely to happen. But this isn’t a big challenge as you can provide foods that encourage constant chewing. One interesting fact is that deer pet owners have reported that Muntjac deer can be trained to use a litter bin.

These deer possess protruding canines that aren’t dangerous as long as your deer is well-behaved. Another fascinating fact is that these deer contain scent glands located on their head, and they love to rub them against the owners, which makes them affectionate creatures.

Sitka Deer

This deer is one of the best exotic species. After analyzing 90 mammal species for pet suitability, Dutch scientists concluded that Sitka deer, Ilama, Asian palm civet, Tammar wallaby, and agile wallaby were the best pet species apart from dogs and cats.

According to the policy, this was stated that one could only keep production animals or the ones that don’t require unique knowledge and handling skills. The calm behavior of Sitka deer makes it an adorable pet. 

A case study of Nara Park in Japan, where deer roam freely and are comfortable to come close to humans, can explain more. It is a very social creature that can live up to 25 years.

Axis Deer

Originating from India, these are also known as chital, or simply spotted deer. Its aesthetic value and well-behaved character make it an ideal pet for many. One interesting fact is that they are sexually dimorphic because the female is smaller than the male and doesn’t have antlers.

They are excellent hunting trophies and are usually raised in ranches for that same purpose. They are also fantastic browsers and may go out to browse for food if the grass isn’t available. Another astonishing fact is that they are disease-resistant and won’t require regular vaccinations and deworming.


This is commonly known as caribou and is unique because they are the only deer species with domesticated populations. Some cultures are usually herded and offer milk, hide, and transportation in the arctic regions.

 They possess incredible survival in winter because they can feed on lichens. In captivity, though, you should feed them a balanced commercial diet of roughage and grain because they are susceptible to nutrition changes.

White-Tailed Deer

These are probably the most naturally-occurring deer in many states. They are sometimes considered pests due to their vast number, and unfortunately, they are the common victims of car collisions. 

Also, they are active in causing human conflicts as they possess extraordinary fence-jumping abilities. Some renowned farms sell all-white specimens. They can be great pets only that it is illegal to domesticate them in many states. They are farmed for meat, and some people keep them as outdoor pets.

Fallow Deer

These are also commonly ranched deer and are native to western Eurasia. They are sexually dimorphic, and they are spotted, making them great pets. The incredible thing is that they are calm and quickly adapt to captivity. Also, they are resistant to chronic wasting diseases and won’t transmit it. Hence, it is a legal deer breed in many states. Another value of these fallow deer is that they produce antler velvet, which is common in Asian markets.


Many states do not recommend deer domestication. If you want to have pet deer, you must be sure you can feed them correctly and ensure you have enough space. 

You should know that deer are happier if they can roam freely. Bucks can become very aggressive during the rut season, and hence, deer are better kept as outdoor pets. You must ensure you have plenty of space and capacity to grow their natural foods. If you meet all that we have recommended, deer can be adorable pets.

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