Medium-sized deer. Usually has distinctive ‘furrowed brow’ look. Nearly always seen moving together in herds. Similar spotted coat to fallow deer in summer, usually thicker dark grey-brown in winter. Short tail with black stripe down it and prominent white rump with black margins. Males have rounded antlers.
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Sika footprints are very similar to those of other deer species, particularly fallow deer. Width 5cm, length 8cm. Be very careful not confuse these with sheep or goat footprints.
Deer droppings do not have obvious coloration or smell. The droppings tend to be of a similar shape across all species. Sika droppings tend to be very similar to fallow droppings. They can also easily be confused with sheep droppings.
The best way to determine which deer species you have seen is by looking at the rump and tail. Sika deer have heart shaped white markings with black upper border on the rump with a white tail.
Found in pockets across Scotland, northern and southern England and Ireland. (Maps are based on expert advice, as of 2007. Some species ranges may have changed in the time since. We are currently in the process of updating the maps.)
In coniferous forest and heathland high intake of grasses and heather. In New Forest consume coniferous and deciduous browse, particularly in winter, feed extensively on grasses and heather in spring/summer.
Up to 16 years.
Fallow deer (Dama dama)
Both fallow and sika have a white heart-shaped rump; fallow then has a black horseshoe-shaped border, whilst sika has a black border on the top only. Comparatively longer tail than sika. Upper part of mature male antlers are palmate (broad and flattened) in fallow, which is not the case in sika. Coat colour of fallow can vary greatly but typically brown with white spots in summer and lighter brown with white spots in winter. Sika only has spots in summer.
Red deer (Cervus elaphus)
Buff coloured rump with no border, whereas sika has a black border on the top of its white heart-shaped rump. Red deer has a ginger buff tail, sika has a white tail with a thin vertical black streak. Red deer has a grey/brown coat in winter, red/brown in summer, no spots. Sika has spots in summer. Red deer is larger than sika and has larger antlers.
Roe deer (Capreolus capreolus)
Cream/white rump (oval shaped in males and upside down heart shape in females) can be flared when alarmed. No visible tail. Sika has a heart-shaped white rump with black upper border, with a white tail that has a thin black vertical streak. Red/brown colour in summer, grey/brown in winter and no spots. Sika has spots in summer and is larger than roe. Roe has distinctive black nose and white chin. Small antlers in mature roe males, typically with no more than 3 points, unlike the larger antlers of sika, with usually more than 4 points.
Chris Matcham says:
“The Red deer, Fallow and Sika are grazers (feed on ground vegetation) and these animals typically can be seen in fields and open spaces as they crop the grass. They are therefore very visible when they eat like this and, just like animals on the African plains, form herds as there is safety in numbers since, with heads down, they can’t so easily see predators approaching. Grass is not very nutritious so they just munch their way across the fields. Very often, one or two animals act as guards and don’t eat. Then the roles swap.
Roe and Muntjac browse the shoots from shrubs and other plants so are more likely to be found in scrub and woodland. Now, in woodland it pays to be solitary as a herd walking through a wood makes a lot of noise (I’ve seen/heard this in the New Forest) and this racket would both attract predators and, with all the crashing noise, make it difficult to hear them approaching. The more solitary roe and muntjac are able to walk quietly since they are also smaller. I know that reds and fallow also browse trees, hence the “browse line” on trees but this does tend to be at the woodland edge rather than deep in the forest. Curiously, on the plains of eastern Europe, roe have to graze more so form small herds when they feed on the open spaces.”