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October 27, 2020 3 min read

Do deer eat worms? No, they don’t, but there is an odd connection between deer and worms. In this article, we will share insights about deer and worm situations.

If you have ever killed and dressed a deer on your own, you might notice a few things that seem out of place – worms. Finding these worms may, therefore, brings the question – do deer eat worms? The Answer is No. Deer do not eat worms, neither will they ever go after worms like the birds. Some people might also say that deer may eat worms from the grasses they feed on, but this situation is highly unlikely.

You must know that deer can eat a lot of things, and their feeding habits may change at the spur of the moment. Still, worm-eating isn’t a part of it. But, again, you may wonder – how then are their worms in the deer you dressed?

Deer worms – positives and negatives

The truth is that these deer worms live with the deer throughout their existence. According to a study by Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study in Natchez, Mississippi, there is an average of 3,988 parasites in every deer.

However, here’s the bit that may seem a concern to you – do these deer worms and parasites harm you in any way? The answer is a good majority, is not life-threatening to you or the deer. You can also find these parasites on the internal or external parts of the deer. Nevertheless, some might be harmful if you don’t practice a few things. Let’s look at some of these parasites you should know about.

External Parasites

The lice, mites, or psoroptic mange may be found on the deer all-year-round, but they don’t usually cause harm to the deer. Extreme cases of mite may also cause patchy hair loss or damage to the ear canals of the deer. However, the parasites you should be most concerned about are ticks and deer ked.

Deer ked is an external parasite that feeds on the blood of the deer and may cause blood loss, which results in health issues for the deer but none for humans. Ticks, on the other hand, pose a danger to humans who kill or dress the meat. This is because once the deer dies, the Tick will search for a new host and may attach to the body of the human dressing the meat. They can cause serious health problems for humans. In deer, ticks may also cause hair loss, anemia, high fawn mortality rates. After handling your deer, always inspect body and clothing for ticks that may have jumped on.

Internal Parasites

Internal deer parasites are too numerous. They live in the respiratory system, bloodstream, muscle, and other organs. These parasites look alarming and disgusting to the eyes, but they cannot harm humans at all. Some are equally harmless to the deer as well.


Worms are easier to see when one butchers the venison. They are usually white and about 1 to 3 inches. They are also found in the hams and back strap of the deer and commonly called muscle worms. However, they are harmless to the deer and humans. Technically, one can even eat them after cooking. However, if you find one, you can discard it since no one wants to eat parasitic worms for any reason. Some muscle worms include:

• Arterial worm
• Meningeal worm
• Liver fluke


Tapeworm is also a cause for concern, but when you cook all meat properly before eating to feeding to your dogs, it shouldn’t be a problem. Freezing can also kill the tapeworms.

In summary, when asked the question – do deer eat worms? Deer do not eat worm for any reason, except it is an accident. However, deer usually have a lot of worms and thousands of other parasites in them that may not cause them any harm. Many of these parasites and worms can also be consumed without any harm to humans. Simply cook your meat properly. Apart from the tick problem, which can be managed if you dress the meat with care, there’s no reason to avoid venison.

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