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White-tailed Deer Starting to Consume Red Oak Acorns


Acorns are a preferred food for White-tailed Deer in the fall, thus it may seem strange to see an abundance of Red Oak acorns  still lying on the ground as the weather starts turning cold. The reason that deer haven’t already consumed them has to do with the amount of tannic acid in acorns. The acorns of different oak species contain different amounts of tannic acid — the more tannic acid, the more bitter the acorn.

Red Oak acorns have relatively large amounts of tannic acid in them, and thus, are not at the top of a deer’s list of preferred acorns. White Oak acorns have very little tannic acid and as a result quickly disappear. In addition, Red Oak acorns remain viable, and edible, far longer on the ground than White Oak acorns. Deer have learned this, and consequently, signs of their pawing through the snow in order to reach Red Oak acorns are common during the winter.

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6 responses

  1. Jean Harrison

    Super-beautiful photograph. And interesting information, as always.

    November 9, 2016 at 12:10 pm

  2. Kathie Fiveash

    I wish we knew what was good for us as well as the deer do.

    November 9, 2016 at 3:21 pm

  3. Joan McDuff


    November 10, 2016 at 6:45 am

  4. I always thought that the snow and rain leaching the tannins out made the red oak acorns more palatable the longer they were on the ground. Also, white oak acorns will sprout right away in the fall, while red oak ones wait until the spring to sprout

    November 11, 2016 at 12:43 am

  5. Robert Lachance

    I guess you gotta eat even if it tastes yucky!….. Love Nana

    December 9, 2016 at 5:46 pm

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