It is common to see a spotted fawn lying by itself with no adult nearby. Female deer leave their babies unattended for long periods of time while foraging for food and return only to briefly nurse the baby. The mother deer is usually in the vicinity observing from a distance. The fawn instinctively lies very still and flat so as not to attract predators. The behavior is called “pancaking” and is a sign that the baby is OK.

There are a couple of quick tests that you can perform that will determine if the baby needs help. By the way, it is OK to touch the fawn.

  1. If the fawn is lying on an ant bed or, if you see ants crawling on the fur, brush them off and move the fawn to an ant-free area close by.
  2. Lift the tail and check the rear end. If it is clean and white, then mom has been present recently to clean the fawn.
  3. Slide your finger inside the mouth. It should feel warm and moist, like a human’s mouth.
  4. Gently pinch the skin between the shoulder blades. The skin should snap back into place within 2 seconds.

If the fawn passes all the tests, it is okay. LEAVE IT ALONE! Mom is nearby. If the fawn fails any of the tests, it MAY need help. Call us for assistance.


Unless the injured deer is in an enclosed area, there isn’t much we can do. Tranquilizer darts take minutes to be effective, and a deer can run for miles, even on three legs, before becoming anesthetized. In a captive situation, adult deer often die from the stress of being captured before any treatment can begin. This instinctual reaction is called capture myopathy.

The good news is that deer have amazing natural healing abilities. In many cases, it is best to just leave them alone. Deer can live for years with three legs and other disabilities.

Otherwise, euthanasia may be the only humane option. Call us for more information or to discuss your individual situation.