Fallow deer

Fallow deer

┬ęGillian Day

Fallow deer

Scientific name: Dama dama
Although introduced by the Normans, the fallow deer has been here so long that it is considered naturalised. Look out for groups of white-spotted deer in woodland glades.

Species information


Length: 1.3-1.8m
Shoulder height: 0.5-1.2m
Weight: 31-63kg
Average lifespan: 8-16 years

Conservation status

Introduced, but naturalised species. Protected in the UK under the Deer Act 1991.

When to see

January to December


The fallow deer is an elegant, medium-sized deer, with a typically spotted coat. Males have broad, palmate antlers. During the autumnal breeding season, known as the 'rut', males make a loud belly belch to proclaim their territory and fight over the females. This display may involve groaning and stylised walking, but often results in dangerous, physical contact as they lock antlers. The resulting fawns are born the following summer.

Fallow deer prefer deciduous or mixed woodland with large clearings, typically living in small herds. They are also common in many deer parks throughout the country. They eat grasses and herbs, and will browse young, broadleaf trees.

How to identify

The fallow deer is variable in colour, but is mostly 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.


Fairly widespread in England, Wales, Ireland and southern Scotland.

Did you know?

Fallow deer are native to Asia and were introduced into the UK by the Normans around the 11th century. They subsequently escaped from deer parks and were intentionally released into hunting forests. Today, they are widespread and the most common deer in England.