Odocoileus virginianus cariacou
Called venado (generally), savanna deer (Guianas), lluichu (Peru), cariacu, amapa, or veado galheiro (Brazil).
DESCRIPTION (male) Considerably smaller than a North American whitetail, standing 24-32 inches (61-81 cm) at the shoulder and weighing 40-100 pounds (18-45 kg).
A graceful creature with a long, slender neck, narrow face, fairly large ears and long, slim legs. The largest deer come from northern Brazil, the smallest from Margarita Island off the coast of Venezuela. The coat is thin and has a reddish tint, with underparts and rump white. The tail is large and bushy, brown on top, with erectile white hairs underneath that flare when it is raised in alarm. Most South American whitetails lack the metatarsal glands and hair tufts that are normally found in whitetails from temperate parts of North America. The antlers have the usual whitetail configuration of a main beam with simple tines sprouting up from it, but they usually are small and thin and seldom have more than four points to a side, some of which are likely to be non-typical.
BEHAVIOR As is usual with tropical deer, there is no fixed breeding season. Fawns can be see at any time of year, as can bucks with antlers in various stages of development.
Diurnal when undisturbed, but when hunted they become shy and nocturnal. Fond of crops and tree-borne fruit. They stay in the valleys during the dry season so as to be near water, moving to higher elevations once the rains start. Adaptable and prolific, they are able to coexist well with humans.
HABITAT Open grassland, savanna and light forest at altitudes from sea level to 15,000 feet (4,600 m). Arid or semi-arid conditions are preferred over moist conditions.
DISTRIBUTION Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Surinam, French Guiana, northern Brazil, Ecuador, northern and western Peru, and Curacao and Margarita islands off the coast of Venezuela.
TAXONOMIC NOTES Eight subspecies are listed in South America: tropicalis (west Colombia white-tailed deer), from western Colombia; goudotii (Colombia white-tailed deer), from western Venezuela, most of Colombia, northwestern Brazil, northern Peru and eastern Ecuador; curassavicus (Curacao Island white-tailed deer), from Curacao Island; margaritae (Margarita Island white-tailed deer), from Margarita Island; gymnotis (Venezuela white-tailed deer), from eastern Venezuela, Guyana, western Surinam and northern Brazil; cariacou (Guiana white-tailed deer), from eastern Surinam, French Guiana and northern Brazil; ustus (Ecuador white-tailed deer), from western Ecuador; and peruvianus (Peruvian white-tailed deer), from southern Ecuador and western Peru. For now we combine them for record-keeping, with cariacou Boddaert, 1784, having priority.