Fawn Care

If you see a fawn lying alone from mid-May into the summer, its mom probably put it there for safety.  The doe will check on the fawn, but will go out to eat and leave the fawn alone for extended periods so as not to attract predators. Unless you know the doe has been killed or the fawn is ill, a fawn is best left alone. One way to make sure a fawn is truly orphaned is to check back periodically from a distance where a mother will not see you. 

Even with an orphan, another doe will often take care of the orphan if they are old enough to survive on their own.   A healthy fawn that is about 10 weeks old, typically in mid to late August (although some are born later in the season), is old enough to chew its cud and can often survive on its own if there is food, water, and safety.  At this point they are hard to catch.  A fawn that has lost its spots is old enough.

Spotting a Fawn in Trouble

The number one thing is a fawn crying, a starving fawn will cry for hours and hours.  It goes against everything inside of them because as soon as they start crying, every predator in the area is going to hear them.  The second thing is a fawn approaching humans.  If a fawn walks right up to you, and it’s been calling and calling, it’s hungry and it’s been without its mom.  Another thing that we look for is the curling of the ear tips.  If there’s a fawn right next to a road or in a location that’s really dangerous for that fawn, you absolutely can move that fawn.  From Wilson Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation Center.

If the ears are curling like a flower that’s about to wilt, that means it’s dehydrated, and something possibly happened to the mother.  Another sign of danger are clusters of ticks around the eyes. That could mean blindness.  From Wild Heart Ranch  

If the ears are crumple and the deer was standing up and crying.  The crumpled ear tips mean that the fawn is dehydrated and mom is gone.  The baby needs help!!! From Mountain View Wildlife Rehabilitation

Mother deer will clean their fawns frequently, it reduces their scent.  An unclean fawn is another sign it is in trouble.

Georgia provides this advice:  call a permitted wildlife rehabilitator when:  You are certain the doe is dead.  The doe does not return after 24 hours.  [Note some states do not permit fawn rehabilitation].

Transport:   You can often call your local animal control officer for advice.  It is a myth that a doe will abandon a fawn that has been touched by a human.  Fawns are routinely rescued by humans while the doe stands by ready to recover her fawn.   Wearing a latex glove if available is a good safety precaution. A dog crate or similar is a good method of fawn transport for a very young fawn.


Fawns are milk dependent for approximately the first five weeks of life.  If their mother dies, they will starve.  Somewhat beyond that age a fawn can survive on its own if there is adequate food and water, and no other threats such as predators or traffic.  Goat's milk is a readily available substitute.  Cow milk is not a good substitute and can kill the fawn.  Milk designed for deer fawns is commercially availableInstructions.  

Goat milk or formula can be left out in containers for short times so the fawns can find it.  Clippings of plants  that deer like can also be left out, such as valley oak, plum, olive and many local plants.   See Feeding Deer.

"One of the more important things to remember, when you are feeding, you need to have paper towels or old washcloths. Rub their behind to make them poo and make sure you get them cleaned after. Basically a bottle in one hand and paper in the other and take care of both ends at once." - advice from Jimmy Houston

Baby deer suffers seizures after being wrapped in blankets ... August 3, 2020 United Kingdom, Daily Record

... A baby fawn was fed cow’s milk, which can cause life threatening illnesses to deer ... In another incident a fawn was found by the charity having seizures as a result of being wrapped in dog blankets..,

From the video below:  We purchased an Avent Heavy feed milk bottle from Kroger and first of all we used goats milk straight out of the refrigerator at Kroger. The heavy feed bottle is for babies that drink heavy without introducing air to the flow. Then we Googled what we should be doing and found that the Tractor Supply Company had a baby feed that included Colostrum, essential for them to develop. Just like human baby milk, it includes all of the elements they need to grow without mother's milk, not perfect, but does the trick. - September 11, 2019

Patient of the week: Mule deer fawns July 22, 2020 California, The Malibu Surfside News

... California Wildlife Center is caring for five orphaned mule deer fawns... When the deer first arrive, they are bottle-fed goat's milk because it is gentle on the stomach. They are slowly transitioned to a milk replacement formula specific to their species... All five deer had to be treated for a viral infection ...

Dog Cuddles with Ill Baby Deer Found on Owner's Property Until the Fawn Finds a Rescue Home  June 29, 2021 Tennessee, People on 

... "She has been drinking goat milk and walking around the yard today, and the infection in her eye is looking a lot better after pulling the ticks and applying Neosporin."...

Goat milk sought by Howell Nature Center for hungry, rehabbing fawns June 30, 2022 Michigan, Yahoo

... has seven orphaned or injured baby deer in its rehabilitation clinic, and they're running low on supplies to keep the growing fawns happy and healthy.  The nature center feeds the fawns goat milk...

As the image below from Maine Fish and Wildlife indicates a young, healthy fawn alone in hiding is generally ok.  This is generally in mid-May to late June, but sine fawns are born outside of the normal range.

A Fawn in Hiding is Waiting for Mom to Return

As the video below shows, the fawn finds a place to bed down while mother watches and then walks away.  A fawn will go into hiding after eating and wait for the mother to come back for the next feeding.

Keep your hands off deer this season and every season June 17, 2021 Texas, Beaumont Enterprise

... A recent study conducted by Texas wildlife rehabilitator Ann Connell found that, in some years, 40 percent or more of the deer fawns referred to her were not orphans or injured, but "kidnapped" from their mothers, according to TPWD...

Warning as human kindness kills baby deer in 'honest mistake'  May 9, 2022 United Kingdom, Daily Express

... A member of the public discovered the baby animal lying in the grass and took him home, exposing him to more stress than his young life could handle... given a little more time, the doe would have retrieved him ...

Colorado couple, wildlife rehabbers working with 14 fawns among other animalsJuly 3, 2019 KUSA

... “We’ve rehabbed and released hundreds of fawns, easily well over 200 … half or more of them were literally kidnapped and should never have been brought in.” ... a doe can leave her fawns “consistently for up to, maybe as long as, 8 hours. Sometimes even longer ...

Mother deer will leave babies for up to 12 hours a day July 1, 2020 British Columbia, BC Local News

... Mother deer will leave their babies for up to 12 hours a day so even if the mother is not around it has probably not been abandoned unless you see a dead mother nearby...

This man found a fawn where? Its momma had a good hiding spot August 9, 2020 Mississippi, The Clarion-Ledger

... a deer fawn hiding behind a planter on his front porch ... Does have been known to bed their fawns near homes, apparently for safety... if you find a fawn, leave it alone because the mother is most likely nearby and will return to care for it...

Abandoned fawn becomes a dear friend for Zalas family August 16, 2020 Indiana, South Bend Tribune

...  Does often leave fawns for up to 12 hours.  A day later Clint returned to the island and the fawn was still in the same spot and no mom anywhere.  The fawn was not cleaned off from birth and was stressed... it had the signs of dehydration such as curling of the ears ... [lives free and mingles with other deer] ...

Keeping a Fawn Captive without a License is Generally Illegal

Know What To Do If You Find A Fawn This Summer June 29, 2021 Wisconsin, DNR News

... Holding any wild animal, including a fawn, for more than 24 hours is illegal in Wisconsin and can result in a citation with a monetary fine. The 24-hour grace period is allowed for transporting an injured or sick animal to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator without delay...

Keeping a Fawn Calm  Deer researchers see face coverings differently August 27, 2020 Georgia, Phys.org

... face coverings are used to keep the animals calm ... fawns are manageable with just a tiny covering slipped over their eyes—most often, it's just a ...a baby sock with the toe cut out ...

Fawning over a deer friend July 7, 2011 Nevada,  RescueThe Union of Grass Valley

...I saw a little spotted fawn on weak legs trying to keep up with three other deer. ..Cathy of Wildlife Rescue...advised me on the phone to approach the fawn slowly and that it would not budge a muscle due to instinct. Then to drape a cloth over its eyes while I checked its mouth for moistness. She also wanted me to check to see if it's hoof was warm or cold... she tried to offer him a bottle, but he was too weak to take it. So she gave him an IV, then loaded him in the carrier and took him to her ranch. She said I could call the next day to see how the little fella was doing....“The fluids were what the little guy needed!” she said.

Mule deer fawn August 5, 2020 California, The Malibu Surfside News

... Deer are prone to a condition called capture myopathy, which is caused by stress when they are handled or trapped by people or predators. Extreme overexertion and strain of the nervous system can lead to muscular breakdown... Once it occurs, rehabilitators can only provide supportive care ... Staff tried hand-feeding the deer wild grape leaves ...

Video below of a fawn rescue in Texas, May, 2022

Most Fawns Arrive in May and early June

     The breeding period for a majority of the adult does falls in mid-November, although some are bred later in the season.  Gestation times for whitetails are 180 to 210 days, so many fawns arrive during the last couple of weeks in May and the first 10 days to two weeks of June.

San Jose Firefighters Rescue Fawn After a ‘Concerned Citizen’ Brought the Animal In April 30, 2023 California, Yahoo

... According to the Red Creek Wildlife Center, there are a few signs which can tell you when a fawn is dehydrated or malnourished. Most obviously, the fawn may be found with injuries, or alongside a deceased mother. In these cases, immediate rescue is ideal. If a fawn appears healthy but alone, the wildlife center recommends observing from a distance for about a day...

After finding deer carcass, Saugatuck man says he received 'a blessing'  July 1, 2022 Michigan, WZZM

... Shortly after finding a dead doe, Pete Palazzolo found her two fawns and with the help of a wildlife rehabilitation center, he saved their lives...

Baby deer waited with his dead mother for days before being hit by car and left to die August 2, 2022 United Kingdom, The Mirror

... "This baby was waiting with his dead mother and ventured out into the road before being hit by a car - the driver leaving him for dead...