Fallow Deer Fact File
The fallow deer has a variable coat across its back. Their most common coat pattern is brown with white spots. On the underside they have white fur. A black stripe runs along the nape of the neck and down to the tail. They may be pale brown, black or all white though instead of the brown and some lack the spots.
At the end of the body is a short tail which measures 14-25cm (5.5-10in) long.
Males have large horns on top of their head. These have a range of points on them. They measure between 50 and 70cm (20-28in) long. These are shed and re-grown each year.
A fallow deer will measure 1.4-1.9m (4.5-6.25ft) long and weigh 35-150kg (77-330lbs). Males are typically larger than the females.
The fallow deer is a herbivore. Their diet includes grasses, shrubs, herbs, leaves, buds, bark and fruit.
Their diet is seasonably variable.
It is believed that the natural range of the fallow deer only covered Turkey. There are differing opinions on whether populations in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Slovenia were introduced or were part of the natural range.
With the expansions of humans this species has been introduced to many countries including; Argentina, Austria, Australia, Belarus, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Moldova, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States and Uruguay.
Their introduction to the United Kingdom occurred around the 11th century and they are now considered naturalized there having been in the country for so long. They were imported to Australia in 1836.
The fallow deer is highly adaptable and has spread across the world to many habitats. These include forests, shrubland, scrubland, savanna, grassland and plantations.
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Breeding season takes place from September to January in the northern hemisphere.
During this season males rut and during this time they will establish a patch of land over which they are dominant. This is shown by pawing at the ground, thrashing vegetation and vocalizing.
Following a gestation period of 231-245 days a single fawn is most commonly born though twins are possible.
At birth the fawn has more prominent white spots. This spotted coat provides camouflage to protect against predators. The female will leave this in thick leaf litter or vegetation while she goes to feed. Regularly the female will return and allow the fawn to suckle and move it to a new resting area. It will take around 1 month for the pair to rejoin their herd.
The fawn will be weaned by around 7 months old. They are independent by one year old.
Females reach sexual maturity first at 16 months old while males typically don’t first breed till between 17 and 24 months old.
In the wild they form a herd which is headed by a dominant male with multiple females and their offspring. Single males will form in to herds and travel together. Herds of fallow deer may number up to 100 members.
They make a range of vocalizations to communicate with one another including barks, bleats, mews, peeps, wails and groans.
Males shed their antlers each year. They will grown by August and then shed by April the following year.
Fallow deer are primarily nocturnal with activity peaks at dusk and dawn.
Predators and Threats
Large predators such as bears, cougars and wolves threaten the fallow deer.
If they are threatened a fallow deer will run away with its tail raised above the body. They are able to jump with all four feet leaving the ground. Fallow deer are farmed in many countries for meat, velvet and their coat.
They have spread to a number of countries and established wild populations which has helped increase their population overall.
The natural population in Turkey is threatened by habitat degradation and hunting.
Males grow and then shed their horns each year.
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Burnie, D., 2011. Animal. 3rd ed. London: DK
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Plumpton Park Zoo. 2020. Fallow Deer | Plumpton Park Zoo. [online] Available at: <https://plumptonparkzoo.org/mammals/fallow-deer/> [Accessed 10 November 2020].
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