MORNING DEVOTION: As the Deer (Part II: Why the Deer Pants)


How much water do deer drink?
First let’s begin with the fact that deer drink a lot of water. A deer drinks half a gallon to three quarters of a gallon of water for every 100 lbs., so a larger female can drink up to 1.5 gallons per day and a larger male can drink up to 3 gallons per day—giving or taking a few pounds and considering climate differences. But the human requirement (key word: requirement) is close to half a gallon as well. It appears that deer don’t drink a lot more than humans. Again, why the comparison to drinking water?

Why the deer pants.
The average human has approximately 2.6 million sweat glands all over their body. Sweating is the primary method for our bodies to regulate their own temperature. For most people, the maximum sweat excretion possible within 1 hour is at 30% of a gallon, though for some this maximum could almost reach 80% of a gallon (again, due to biological, climate differences, and physiological problems).

Unlike humans, deer don’t use sweat as a primary means to regulate body temperature. The 3 ways that a deer’s body temperature is regulated is by: its sweat glands, the molting process, and panting. All mammals have sweat glands, however. Deer have very few sweat glands however, so they are unable to keep cool solely by evaporative cooling as well as we do. Molting is when a deer sheds its coarser “winter coat” for a lighter “summer coat”. The short, thin hairs on the summer coat allow air movement and enable deer to keep cool through simple air convection.  The entire process occurs within a few weeks, and there are about 6 million hairs on one adult deer! However, according to, a deer runs a higher risk of becoming dehydrated anytime the temperature is above 40˚ F. This is why deer (much like dogs) pant. Panting is another way that warm-blooded animals stay cool to loose heat by water evaporation. Once these animals’ body temperature rises, they can’t sweat through their skin like we do to cool off because of their fur. It’s by panting that they circulate the necessary air through their bodies to cool down. To be continued…


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