Fawns Strengthen Bonds Through Grooming Rituals

I was fortunate to capture these two whitetail fawns grooming each other at the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma in August 2009. While every year offers special wildlife encounters, 2009 was an exceptional year for observing and photographing whitetail fawns at this refuge.

Fawns Grooming Each Other
Fawns Grooming Each Other

Fawns are adorable and innocent creatures that are known for their playful and innocent behavior. But did you know that they have a grooming ritual that helps them bond and maintain their hygiene?

Fawns are social animals and they spend a lot of time grooming each other. This behavior is called “allogrooming” and it helps to bond and strengthen the relationships between fawns. The process involves the fawns licking and nibbling each other to remove dirt, insects, and other debris from their fur. This not only helps to keep them clean but also stimulates the production of endorphins, which are feel-good hormones that help to reduce stress and improve overall well-being.

In addition to grooming, fawns also engage in play and nuzzling behavior, which helps to further strengthen their bonds. This is particularly important during the first few months of their life, as they rely heavily on each other for survival and protection. By grooming each other, they are able to build trust and a sense of security with one another.

It is significant to note that fawns are highly social creatures, and they are often seen grooming each other in groups. This allows them to build strong social bonds and develop a sense of community, which is essential for their survival in the wild.

In conclusion, the grooming behavior of fawns is a fascinating and essential aspect of their lives. Not only does it help to maintain their hygiene, but it also serves as a way to bond and build relationships with each other. So the next time you see a group of fawns grooming each other, take a moment to appreciate the beauty of this adorable ritual.

Note: I would not have gotten this photo if I hadn’t been in my pickup. The vegetation is high during this time of year, and my pickup places me high enough to photograph over some of this vegetation. I had my camera resting on a bean bag draped over the open window of my pickup.

Gear Used:

  • Camera: Canon EOS 1D Mark III
  • Lens: Canon EF 500 mm f/4L IS


  • Location: Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge (Oklahoma)
  • Date and Time Taken: August 13, 2009 (07:39:45 A.M.)
  • Aperture Priority
  • Aperture: f5.6
  • Shutter speed: 1/320 sec. (as determined by the camera)
  • ISO: 800
  • Exposure Compensation: 0
  • Focal Length: 500 mm

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