Essay

How Deer Found Their Way to Puerto Rico (Note: They Aren’t Native!)

Puerto Rico is home to a diverse and fascinating array of animals. Animals like the Puerto Rican boa, West Indian manatee, leatherback sea turtle, common coqui, and Puerto Rico Spindalis are all well-known for living on this colorful island. These indigenous creatures represent the island. However, several creatures that roam Puerto Rico are not indigenous. Deer are one animal that often impresses tourists visiting Puerto Rico. Were you aware that Puerto Rico is home to deer? Though they have been seen in Culebra for decades, are they native? Follow along to discover how deer found their way to Puerto Rico.

Are Deer Native to Puerto Rico?

Puerto Rico is not a native home to deer. They are widespread throughout Puerto Rico despite this, though it can be challenging to monitor population sizes. There are two types of deer on the island of Culebra, though most people only know about one, and there are numerous hypotheses as to how they arrived there.

Culebra is an island approximately 17 miles east of the Puerto Rican peninsula where there are whitetail deer, but how did they get there? We’re not sure, is the succinct response! The origin of the whitetail deer population in Culebra is the subject of several theories. A widely held belief is that the deer were introduced to the island during American occupation by the Army or Navy. This was done as a test or in the hopes of having a sufficient number of deer for hunting. Not as well accepted is the myth that the deer were introduced to the island by a wealthy foreign couple who had a fondness for deer. According to several reports, whitetail deer were brought to Culebra in 1966 and the Puerto Rican mainland in 1963.

How is the other deer doing? European fallow deer have been sighted all across mainland Puerto Rico, especially near Rio Piedras and San Lorenzo. The idea that they were formerly a part of El Monoloro: El Parque-Zoológico de Carolina is one explanation for how they have spread around the island. When the zoo closed, they were either released or managed to escape. Be aware that the information above is theoretical.

Regarding Whitetail Deer

After understanding the history of deer in Puerto Rico, let’s explore more about whitetail deer. Although they have been imported to other continents and nations, whitetail deer are indigenous to North, Central, and South America. For example, whitetail deer were also brought to Germany, the Czech Republic, Finland, Cuba, and Jamaica.

The height and weight of whitetail deer varies greatly by area. They could weigh as much as, or perhaps more than, seventy to four hundred pounds. Whitetail deer can run quickly. They are capable of sprinting up to 35 mph.

Regarding European Fallow Deer

Additionally, fallow deer are not indigenous to Puerto Rico or even North America! Numerous names for them exist, such as European fallow deer. Although fallow deer are found over much of Europe, it is most likely that this species first appeared in and near Turkey.

According to the IUCN Red List, fallow deer are currently classified as Least Concern. Male adult fallow deer, referred to as bucks, typically measure between 55 and 63 inches in length. Their weight could reach 220 pounds. Smaller than males, females are referred to as does and typically weigh between 60 and 110 pounds.

Does Puerto Rico Have Other Invasive Animals?

In Puerto Rico, deer are not the only exotic or invasive species. Not native to Puerto Rico, the green iguana is one of the most prevalent and iconic species on the island. This destructive animal causes annual losses and damages amounting to millions of dollars. Green iguanas have existed in Puerto Rico since the 1970s. They were popular pets for a brief period of time before being unleashed and proliferating rapidly. On the island, they have no natural predators.

Another invasive species on the island is the small Indian mongoose. These mongoose are native to Iraq and northern South Asia but have been in Puerto Rico since 1877. They were brought to the island in an attempt to eradicate or manage the black rats, which were interfering with sugarcane fields’ ability to produce crops. The length of small Indian mongooses ranges from 9 to 25 inches. They can climb quite well and know how to disappear from view.

On the island, feral pigs prowl around like they do in much of the world. It’s common knowledge that Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs roam freely around San Juan and its environs, wreaking havoc. They leave behind strong poop odors after getting inside trash cans. These wild pigs are probably the offspring of abandoned pets or previous household pets.