The white-tailed deer ( Odocoileus virginianus) inhabits a wide latitudinal range in the Americas. Deer species dwelling throughout wide latitudinal ranges have developed subspecies with variations in their reproductive seasonality. In northern subspecies of white-tailed deer, such as those from Canada and the United States, the breeding season occurs from October through December. Odocoileus virginianus veraecrucis is a subspecies that inhabits eastern Mexico, and because its reproductive season has not been studied, it is believed to be similar to that from northern subspecies. The objective of the study was to determine the onset of the breeding season and the profile of fecal steroid hormone metabolites throughout the year in captive white-tailed deer subspecies veraecrucis in Mexico. Two groups of adult deer were included: 1) six does and one buck at a Wildlife Conservation Unit, and 2) five does and one buck at a zoo. From each group of deer, representative fecal samples were collected on a weekly basis for 1 yr for fecal analysis of progesterone and estradiol in the does, and testosterone in the bucks. Data on antler casting, parturitions, and velvet shedding were recorded. Progesterone was high during pregnancy and low throughout the parturition period. Estradiol fluctuated throughout the year. Testosterone was high during the rut and low after antler casting. Antlers were cast in March and velvet was shed in August at both sites. Parturitions started in February at the zoo and in April at the Wildlife Unit. In captive white-tailed deer subspecies veraecrucis the breeding season started in July, and therefore earlier than what has been reported for subspecies from northern latitudes.
Keywords: Breeding season; Odocoileus virginianus veraecrucis; estradiol; progesterone; testosterone; white-tailed deer.