Its docility, speckled coat and the males’ antlers make the fallow deer, Dama dama, one of the most exquisite animals at the parks and gardens!
Mammalia, Cetartiodactyla, Cervidae
15 to 17 years
70 to 95 cm at the shoulder, 80 kg at the most
7.5 months, one baby
Open forests, woodlands
grasses, buds, acorns, bark, etc.
Europe and Asia Minor
LC, least concerned
Way of life
The does, accompanied by their offspring, live in herds led by a matriarch. Dozens of individuals can gather in an open area while only a handful group together in a forest environment. In autumn, when their antlers, which serve as their tools for seduction, are at their most developed, the males gather in “arenas” that are located very close to each other. The males frequently come to blows in fights where they try to attract females for mating with their throaty bellows. Not being a particularly territorial animal, the fallow deer travels around a lot in search of food but always returns to the same breeding site year after year.
Several days before calving, the females move away from the herd. The newborn remains hidden away in the grass, regularly licked by its mother. The offspring from the previous year, put aside for a few weeks following birth, then joins its mother and the fawn.
The male has large characteristic palmated antlers which can weigh up to 7 kg. Its reddish-brown coat is mottled, darkening in winter to become more uniform and grey. There are also white or black fallow deer. To escape danger, fallow deer can run at a speed of 50 km/h and jump higher than 1.70 m.
Its hearing and sense of smell are highly developed. However, its night vision is not very strong and, unlike other deer, it is much more active during the day.
Originally from the eastern Mediterranean, the deer had almost disappeared from Europe after the last ice age 10,000 years ago. It was reintroduced there during Antiquity, particularly for hunting purposes, from a few populations that remained in Asia Minor.
Wild populations found in European forests are escaped animals or deliberate releases.