Deer are the ruminant mammals forming the family Cervidae. Species in the Cervidae family include white-tailed deer, elk, moose, red deer, reindeer, fallow deer, roe deer and chital. Male deer of all species and female reindeer grow and shed new antlers each year...
indigenous to western North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...
. The Mule Deer gets its name from its large mule
A mule is the offspring of a male donkey and a female horse. Horses and donkeys are different species, with different numbers of chromosomes. Of the two F1 hybrids between these two species, a mule is easier to obtain than a hinny...
-like ears. There are believed to be several subspecies
Subspecies in biological classification, is either a taxonomic rank subordinate to species, ora taxonomic unit in that rank . A subspecies cannot be recognized in isolation: a species will either be recognized as having no subspecies at all or two or more, never just one...
, including the black-tailed deer
Two forms of black-tailed deer or blacktail deer occupying coastal temperate rainforest on North America's Pacific coast are subspecies of the mule deer. They have sometimes been treated as a species, but virtually all recent authorities maintain they are subspecies...
. Unlike its cousin, the white-tailed deer
The white-tailed deer , also known as the Virginia deer or simply as the whitetail, is a medium-sized deer native to the United States , Canada, Mexico, Central America, and South America as far south as Peru...
, mule deer are generally more associated with the land west of the Missouri River
The Missouri River flows through the central United States, and is a tributary of the Mississippi River. It is the longest river in North America and drains the third largest area, though only the thirteenth largest by discharge. The Missouri's watershed encompasses most of the American Great...
, or more specifically, with the Rocky Mountain region of North America. Mule deer have also been introduced
An introduced species — or neozoon, alien, exotic, non-indigenous, or non-native species, or simply an introduction, is a species living outside its indigenous or native distributional range, and has arrived in an ecosystem or plant community by human activity, either deliberate or accidental...
Kauai or Kauai, known as Tauai in the ancient Kaua'i dialect, is geologically the oldest of the main Hawaiian Islands. With an area of , it is the fourth largest of the main islands in the Hawaiian archipelago, and the 21st largest island in the United States. Known also as the "Garden Isle",...
Hawaii is the newest of the 50 U.S. states , and is the only U.S. state made up entirely of islands. It is the northernmost island group in Polynesia, occupying most of an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean, southwest of the continental United States, southeast of Japan, and northeast of...
) and Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...
. The most noticeable differences between whitetails and mule deer are the size of their ears, the color of their tails, and the configuration of their antlers.