Medium-sized deer. Nearly always seen moving together in herds. Coat colour varies greatly, even in same herd. Typical coat is brown with white spots in summer and lighter brown with white spots in winter. Individuals may be white or near black. Longer tail than other deer, constantly twitching. Rump is white with black margins either side, and black stripe down the tail, giving appearance of the number 111. Fully grown males have large, broad, flattened antlers.
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Fallow deer have very similar footprints to the sika deer. They are one of largest footprints of all deer species. Width of female footprints up to 4cm and the length 6cm.
They can be easily confused with sheep and goat footprints.
Deer droppings do not have obvious coloration or smell. The droppings tend to be of a similar shape across all species.
The fallow deer tail has heart shaped white markings with an upside down horseshoe shaped black border and a long black tail.
Widespread across England and Wales, isolated populations in Scotland. Found across most of 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.)
Preferential grazers rather than browsers, grasses contribute a large amount of their diet. Herbs and broadleaf browse also make considerable contribution.
Males 8-10 years, females 12-16 years.
Red deer (Cervus elaphus)
Buff coloured rump with ginger buff tail. Fallow has a white rump with a black horseshoe-shaped border and a long black tail (giving the appearance of the number 111). Typical fallow coat has spots all year round (although coats can vary greatly in fallow), no spots on red deer. Large, branched antlers in red, not palmate (broad and flattened) as in fallow deer.
Roe deer (Capreolus capreolus)
Plain cream/white rump with no visible tail, unlike white rump of fallow which has a black horseshoe-shaped border and a black tail (giving appearance of the number 111). No distinctive spots on coat, whilst typical fallow has spots all year round (although fallow coat can vary greatly). Small, branched antlers in mature roe male, with usually no more than 3 points, not large and palmate (broad and flattened) as in fallow. Roe has a distinctive black nose and white chin.
Sika deer (Cervus nippon)
Both sika and fallow have a white heart-shaped rump but sika has a black upper border, unlike the horseshoe shaped border surrounding the fallow’s rump. Fallow has a longer black tail, sika has a white tail with a vertical black streak. Sika only has spots in the summer whilst fallow coat varies greatly but typically has white spots all year round. Sika has pointed antlers, not palmate (broad and flattened) as in fallow.
Chris Matcham says:
“I did glean an interesting fact about deer from one of the old New Forest keepers I got to know, so if you’ve got 5 minutes and a cup of tea I’ll tell you.
I was trying to photograph fallow deer fawns (incidentally fallow have fawns, roe have kids and red have calves) and I found a great site where there were always a lot of fawns congregated in the afternoons but I could never get near them without spooking them. So, I hid in some bracken for a couple of hours before they arrived getting covered in ticks. Still no good, the adult doe who was with them was always suspicious and took them away. This happened several times so I then asked the keeper what I was doing wrong. He laughed and explained it as follows. In the New Forest the grazing is very poor, sandy heathland you know so mother deer have to eat all the time to keep up their own strength and also to provide milk for their offspring. The adult deer that I saw when trying to photograph them was an old animal, past breeding but, being a member of the herd was related to all the fawns. She therefore operated a creche, leaving the mothers free to graze whilst the old lady looked after the ‘nursery’. Not only was she free to spend all her time looking after the ‘children’ but she had picked a spot where the wind blew in a circular manner so she could scent danger from every direction; so she had both eyes and nose on the job. As the keeper said: ” You’ll never get near them as she’s got eyes in her ar*e. Don’t forget, some of her genes are carried by those fawns so it’s in her interest that they survive”.
Isn’t nature amazing.”