Fallow Deer are variable in colour: most are a pale gingery-brown with white spots on the back, a characteristic black and white tail and a white rump patch outlined in black. Some animals are darker brown without any spots, and others are very pale, almost white. Look out for a group of quite large deer with white spots in a sunny woodland glade.
Fallow deer can be found in most counties in England and Wales, and there are large populations in pockets spread across Scotland. The species was introduced by the Normans and quickly became established in the wild in hunting forests and chases. There are no really accurate estimates, but there must be tens of thousands of fallow deer in Britain.
Most herds consist of the common coat variation, yet it is not rare to see animals of the menil coat variation. The Melanistic variation is generally rarer and white very much rarer still, although wild New Zealand herds often have a high melanistic percentage.
Fallow deer have been introduced to Cape Province, South Africa.
There is no conservation action targeted at the fallow deer.
Road deaths are common, and predation of fawns is a major cause of mortality (3). Populations are managed, as the fallow deer is a pest of woodland and agriculture (3).
Fallow deer live in isolated groups in the forest. They range over large areas and spend only a short time in one area. But they can cause a great deal of damage by feeding on buds and leaves, and they will also strip bark from trees.
The Rhodian population of fallow deer has been found to average smaller than those of central and northern Europe, though they are similarly coloured. In 2005, the Rhodian fallow deer was found to be genetically distinct from all other populations and to be of urgent conservation concern. At the entrance to the harbour of Rhodes city, statues of a fallow deer buck and doe now grace the location where the Colossus of Rhodes once stood.
Whilst non-native, fallow deer are considered naturalised and are locally abundant and increasing. They are widespread in England and Wales, but patchy in Scotland, inhabiting mature broadleaf woodland with under-storey, open coniferous woodland and open agricultural land. They prefer to graze grasses although they will take trees and dwarf shrub shoots in autumn and winter.
Young fallow start breeding when they are about 18 months old. The mating season, or rut, starts in late September and peaks in mid October. Usually, the doe gives birth to a single fawn between late May - mid June. The fawn is weaned by October.
Social Dependency: Fawns frequently remain with their mother as yearlings, learning her home range during this period.
Both sexes live in single sex groups for most of the year, only getting together at the time of the rut. Young bucks will stay with the doe herds until they are 18 months old, when they leave to join the buck herds.
The fallow deer was introduced to the Victoria Island in the Province of Neuquén by billionaire Aaron Anchorena, who with the intention to increase hunting opportunities freed wildlife European and Asian origin, making them in common inhabitants of the island and competing for land and food of the Huemul native and pudu. Today it comes to maintain a stable population of these introduced species.
Natural predators, such as bears, lynx and wolves, are now extinct in Britain. Today, in Forestry Commission woodlands, wildlife rangers control deer populations in woods to stop them suffering from sickness and disease, and to prevent them damaging and killing young trees.
Fallow are generally not territorial but have a ‘home range’. Within the home range will be areas that are more frequented than others and associated paths will become apparent. Fallow prefer deciduous or mixed woodlands with a well-established understorey. They can also utilise moorland around the woodland fringe. Herds frequently forage from woodlands onto agricultural land. Some populations thrive in habitats predominated by agricultural land but incorporating small woods and copses.
In Pennsylvania, fallow deer are considered livestock since there are no feral animals breeding in the wild. Occasional reports of wild fallow deer in Pennsylvania are generally attributed to escapes from preserves or farms.
There is much variation in the coat colour of the species, with four main variants: "common", "menil", melanistic and leucistic – a genuine colour variety, not albinistic. The white is the lightest coloured, almost white; common and menil are darker, and melanistic is very dark, sometimes even black (easily confused with the sika deer).
Fallow deer range widely and the Forestry Commission is working closely with neighbouring landowners to manage deer populations.
This species inhabits mature deciduous and mixed woodland with dense undergrowth (3). The fallow deer also occurs in marshes, meadows, and mature conifer plantations (3).
In the 11th century, the Normans introduced fallow deer to Britain; they are now patchily distributed throughout much of England and Wales, they also occur in some areas of Scotland and Northern Ireland (3). They are common throughout most of Europe, as they have escaped from deer parks throughout the continent (3).
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Deer quickly learn to recognise and respond to human behaviour and sounds that they associate with danger. Fallow are generally extremely wary and are suspicious of strange objects or changes within their surroundings.
Autumn - a time of great change, of breathtaking migrations, of high drama.
Fairly widespread in England, Wales, Ireland and southern Scotland.
Dec to Sep: Bucks and does generally remain in separate single-sex herds utilising different parts of range. The availability of arable crops often influences range use which may help deer managers predict local fallow herd movements.
The size of groups and the degree of sexual segregation will depend on population density and habitat. In woodland, for most of the year bucks and does generally remain in separate single-sex herds, grouping together from October to December on traditional rutting stands. In agricultural habitats, however, bucks and does may mix freely throughout the year.
Only bucks have antlers, which are broad and shovel-shaped (palmate) from three years. In the first two years the antler is a single spike. They are grazing animals; their preferred habitat is mixed woodland and open grassland. During the rut bucks will spread out and females move between them, at this time of year fallow deer are relatively ungrouped compared to the rest of the year when they try to stay together in groups of up to 150.
The fallow deer is easily tamed and is often kept semi-domesticated in parks today.
The following habitats are found across the Fallow deer distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.
Vital statisticsHeight: about 1 m at the shoulderWeight: Males, 85-90 kg, females 50-60 kgLifespan: 14 - 15 years in the wildUseful sitesBritish Deer SocietyThe Deer InitiativeDeer UKDeer Commission of Scotland England's Woods and Forests are cared for by Forest Enterprise England, an agency of the Forestry Commission.
Fallow deer are herbivores and graze all types of ground vegetation. They also browse shrub layers in a wood, and the growing shoots and leaves of holly and beech trees. Fallow deer inhabit woodland both for food and shelter, but they like to feed in arable fields on root crops such as carrots, sugar beet, parsnips or potatoes.
The whitetail deer Odocoileus virginianus was once classified as Dama virginianus; they were given a separate genus in the 19th century.
One noted historical herd of fallow deer is located in the Ottenby Preserve in Öland, Sweden where Karl X Gustav erected a drystone wall some four kilometres long to enclose a royal fallow deer herd in the mid 17th century; the herd still exists as of 2006. Another is Phoenix Park in Ireland where a herd of 400–450 fallow deer descend from the original herd introduced in the 1660s.
Preferential grazers of grasses and herbs although trees and dwarf shrub shoots (e.g. heather, conifer, holly and bramble) will be taken during autumn and winter. During the autumn acorns, fruits, nuts and fungi also make up their diet.
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Agile and fast in case of danger, fallow deer can run up to a maximum speed of 30 mph (48 km/h) over short distances (being naturally less muscular than other cervids such as roe deer, they are not as fast). Fallow deer can also make jumps up to 1.75 metres (approx 5.8 ft.) high and up to 5 metres (almost 17ft.) in length.
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Large bucks may stop feeding completely during the rut and will lose condition as a result, whereas younger bucks hanging around on the fringes will continue to eat as normal.