So the other day I go in to volunteer and I hear we have 3 fawns. So we prepare the bottles, cut the fruit and head down to feed the babies. As I enter the gate I am in awe as I see a multicolored animal in the pen. It took me a minute to figure out what I was seeing. A baby goat? No…. but the cutest little creature I have seen.
This little baby is a Piebald deer. This deer is born when both the mother and father have a certain recessive gene. As I looked into this a bit it seems the name was originally given to horses, mostly black and white horses. So the name Piebald is broken down, Pie – from Magpie, like the black and white mix. The word bald can mean streaked or marked with white - so mixed. This deer is of mixed colors.
Unfortunately, most Piebald animals are born with birth defects. Most common are scoliosis, arthritis, or other internal problems. Luckily our little fellow seems to be in good shape and very healthy.
Piebald deer don’t do so well in the wild because they don’t have the natural camouflage other white tail deer have. But with less than 2% of deer being Piebald, your chances of seeing one are very slim.
I feel honored to have had the opportunity to see one myself. I have never heard of them. I had heard of albino deer, I heard there was one near the reservoir off route 53, but I was never lucky enough to get a glimpse of it myself. Albino have red eyes and pink noses, piebald have brown eyes and black noses. Their snout is a bit rounder than the regular white tail. The legs are a bit shorter, that’s why I thought it was a goat, and the back is a bit rounded, part of the spines abnormalities. Luckily for this little guy the other fawns don’t treat him like Rudolph and they do allow him to play in their little deer games.
Before area hunters get excited that there may be a unique deer roaming our local forests I have to warn you. Legend says that if you kill a Piebald deer it will bring you many bad hunts in the future, it could also bring death within a year. So grab your camera and a shot but let the Piebald roam.