An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide – maryholland505@gmail.com

White-tailed Deer’s Sense of Smell

Being popular prey animals, white-tailed deer have evolved an extremely good sense of smell, sight and hearing.   Their elongated noses are filled with an intricate system of nasal passages that contain millions of olfactory receptors – up to 297 million (dogs have 220 million, humans just 5)!  As the tongue in this photograph infers, deer lick their nose to keep it moist, which helps odor particles stick to it, improving their sense of smell.  Not only do deer use their sense of smell to avoid predators (including hunters), but they use it to communicate with each other, as is evident from  the seven scent glands on their head, legs and hooves.

3 responses

  1. Peter Denis

    Thank you for this. I guess they smelled the nastursiums in the window boxes of our shed and cleaned out the boxes of flowers and potting soil! Bloody deer!

    June 24, 2011 at 2:22 pm

  2. ted

    they seem to show up when ever I throw old onions outside..

    June 7, 2013 at 2:23 am

    • Interesting…never heard of that before!

      June 7, 2013 at 11:49 am

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