nlike either members of the gazelle, horse or rhino families, the unicorn doe's gestation period is approximately 1230 days, or three years, four months, and two weeks to twenty days.
The birth always takes place on the first dark (moon less) night after the 1,229 th day of pregnancy. In the night of the last full moon before the birth of a fawn unicorn, generally mild-mannered stag, or stags, of that forest are seemingly caught up in a frenzy of rushing, leaping, and rearing about - as if in excitement and anticipation of the new arrival.
At the time of birth ( always at daybreak) the mother conceals herself in heavy growth, while the father waits some distance away. When the sun rises and hits the stag's horn, he calls out in joy, celebrating the arrival of the fawn lying white and wet at its mother's side in a thicket.
Unicorn fawns are some of the loveliest of baby animals.Born without horns, they have a hard waxy substance about the size of a bottle cap in the spot from which the horn will sprout, directly in the center of the forehead. Once the fawn has been born and the doe has finished cleaning it, she turns her attention to his forehead.
Most fawns seem actually to push their foreheads toward their mother in order for her to lick the waxy spot, as though it itches. Once the wax has been removed, the horn is able to sprout and can literally be seen to grow before one's eyes.
Although, naturally, no-one has ever been able to get close enough to the foals to measure the growth, through observation, ten minutes after the removal of the wax seal, the horn has sprouted to about one inch from the forehead. Twenty minutes after birth, it appears to be about one and a half to two inches long, and when the fawn is half an hour old, the horn is roughly three inches in length.
After this, growth slows considerably, so that a week-old fawn might have a horn that is four inches long. At one month the horn will be about six inches in length, while the yearling horn is approximately eight inches long, and from then on it grows roughly one inch every fifty years until it reaches its maximum length of eighteen inches.
The fine, relatively long beard sported by a fawn will be shed by the time he is a year old, at which time his eyes change colour from light to dark. Though he will not be completely weaned from his mother until he is about fifteen years old, the fawn nibbles at berries, new leaves and other luscious soft growth.
With their rear hooves, fawns try to scratch at their horns, which in this first sprint of rapid development, grow so fast that high concentrations of blood cause the skin around it to itch. Baby unicorns may be observed hoof scratching their horns or rubbing them against soft lower branches.
The tiny fawn is extremely well developed and within a few hours is able to stand up and nurse. It's lovely dappled coat makes it almost completely invisible When it hides in the tall grass at the edge of the woods, allowing the mother to safely move some distance away to seek food or rest between feeds.
When it is time to nurse, she returns and utters a quiet call, and the fawn quickly leaps to its feet to rejoin her. When very young, a faun may nurse several times a day, though after a few weeks the nursing periods become shorter and more widely separated. At night the mother beds down beside her fawn.
The running speed of a ten day old unicorn is comparable to that of a racehorse. When one is fortunate enough to see a baby unicorn, it will not be while he is galloping at full speed, as that reduces him to a mere blur of white among the green shadows of the forest.
Few visual experiences are as satisfying as watching fawns at play. The setting sun appears to hold a special attraction for young unicorns that can frequently be seen suddenly leaping toward the sun with the apparent expectation that their jump would carry them on and into the sky.
Young unicorns spend nearly fifty years with their parents, normally remaining until the next fawn is born. Several months before the next baby is due, the mother gently but repeatedly nudges her offspring away. By this time the now fully grown unicorn will have learned to get along on its own. The horns of the young animals are well developed, and as mentioned earlier, will continue to grow throughout the animal's life, although the total length of the horn varies greatly even among animals of the same age.
Like other hoofed animals, unicorns rest and sleep while lying on the ground with their legs folded in against the body, with the body tilted slightly toward one side and the head turned back toward the rear This way, their legs are always almost directly under them, allowing them to leap to their feet in an instant.
Even newborn fawns sleep with their legs out from under them and at the slightest sound their ears are turned in the direction of the noise, and their large eyes scan the distance for any danger. When alarmed, resting unicorns utter a small sneeze-like sound that alerts other nearby unicorns to possible danger, this is especially true of mothers guarding their young.
On hearing such a sneeze, the fawn will lower its head and fold its ears back, so that it becomes almost invisible in the grass, and it remains thus until its hidden mother calls to it.
Besides their alarm "sneeze," unicorns have a variety of other calls or signals that they use for communication. Babies have a soft, bleating call with which they answer their mother's "contact call. "This contact call is used by the mother to reassure her fawn and keep it informed of her location.
Unicorns rise before sunrise, and graze until the sun is well up and the insects become annoying. Then, at least on hot summer days, they retire to the densest part of the woods to rest and nap until late afternoon when they rise to graze again until dark, or even after dark on moonlit nights, finally going to sleep about midnight.
Baby unicorns nurse off and on throughout the day, but especially at dawn and dusk, and often follow these nursing periods with bouts of playful running and jumping, when they resemble lambs gamboling about in the fields. As they grow older, they gradually reduce such periods of play, and young males become more serious in preparation for searching out a mate.