Fallow deer (Dama dama)

French: Daim Européen
Spanish: Gamo
KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassMammalia
OrderCetartiodactyla
FamilyCervidae
GenusDama (1)
SizeMale weight: 46 - 94 kg (2)
Female weight: 35 - 56 kg (2)
Female shoulder height: 73 - 91cm (2)
Male shoulder height: 84 - 94 cm (2)

The fallow deer is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1). This widespread and locally common introduced species is increasing in numbers (3). It is protected in the UK by the Deer Act 1991 (4), and certain methods of killing or capture are prohibited under Appendix IV of the Bern Convention (5).

Prized as an ornamental species for many years (3), the fallow deer (Dama dama) displays a variety of coat colours in the UK, ranging from red, brown and black, and even pure white coats (6). A black line runs along the back to the tail, and there are often white spots on the back during summer (6). The coat becomes darker and thicker in winter (2), and these white spots become more faint (6). Males have impressive antlers that can measure up to 70 centimetres in height (6). Calves are born with a coat similar to the summer coat of the adult (6).

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).

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).

Like many species of deer, the fallow deer is active throughout the 24-hour period, but in areas where human disturbance is high, they tend to be more active at night (2). They typically graze on grasses and rushes, but may also browse on young leaves, and also take cereals, berries and acorns (3).

For most of the year, males and females occur in separate single-sex groups, and large herds of fallow deer can aggregate in open areas where there is plenty of food (3). The breeding season, or 'rut' occurs between October and November (3); Males hold 'rutting stands' to defend groups of females (6). Rutting behaviour involves displaying, including groaning contests and parallel walks, escalating to physical contests in which the males lock antlers and push each other (2). One calf is usually produced during June or July (3).

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).

There is no conservation action targeted at the fallow deer.

For more information on fallow deer: 

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:
arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

  1. IUCN Red List (April, 2011)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org/
  2. British Deer Society Fact Sheet (March, 2008)
    http://www.bds.org.uk/fallow.html
  3. Macdonald, D.W. and Tattersall, F.T. (2001) Britain's mammals- the challenge for conservation. The Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Oxford University, Oxford.
  4. The Deer Act 1991. DEFRA (March, 2008)
    http://www.defra.gov.uk/wildlife-countryside/vertebrates/deer.htm
  5. United Nations Treaty Collection: Convention on the conservation of European wildlife and natural habitats (March, 2008)
    http://untreaty.un.org/unts/60001_120000/9/30/00017489.pdf
  6. The Invasive Alien Species Project. Fact Sheet: Dama dama (November, 2002)
    http://138.253.199.114/IAAP%20Web/IAAPwebsite/Terranimintro.asp?ID=14