• Lower Cliff Dwelling

    Tonto

    National Monument Arizona

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Mule Deer

mule deer buck

mule deer

NPS Photo

Mule Deer
Odocoileus hemionus

Body length: 3 3/4 - 6 1/2'
Diet: Flowering plants, grasses, and woody vegetation

While white-tailed deer are generally seen in hilly areas at Tonto National Monument, mule deer are most common in the flat desert areas, particularly north of Route 188. Mule deer are larger than white-tailed deer, and lack the fluffy white tail. They are further distinguished by larger, "mule" ears, and antlers which branch into pairs of points (in the white-tailed deer, all branches rise from the single main stem).

It is hard to believe that when the western states were first settled by Europeans, mule deer were considered rare. It is thought that their population increase resulted from predator control and grazing, which has aided development of the woody vegetation they prefer.

Did You Know?

snow in the desert

Tonto National Monument averages 15" of rain annually. Snow is a rare occurrence, but as long as temperatures remain above freezing, the saguaros don't seem to mind!