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- Located on the inner “hock” of the hind legs is the tarsal gland. This gland allows deer to recognize other individual deer and social status. Strangely enough, deer may actually urinate on their tarsal gland and rub them together to get a more “individual” scent.
- The metatarsal gland is located on the outside of the hind leg between the hock and ankle. The use of the metatarsal is mostly a mystery and some biologists feel that it may alert other deer to danger.
- The interdigital glands are located in between the split hooves of the front and back feet. These glands may help deer leave a scent trail that expresses dominance to other deer.
- The last two sets of external glands are on the head. The pre-orbital gland is located in front of each eye in what looks like a tear duct. When rubbed on branches during the breeding season, the scent from these glands may communicate social status and gender.
- Finally, the forehead glands are located near the nose and most likely have two purposes. The scent not only relays breeding availability when left on branches and rubs, but also allows young deer to recognize their mothers.
John Miller is Interpretative Center Manager of the Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery Conservation Center
More detailed information is at this University of Georgia link.