Fallow Deer Information And Origins

Fallow deer species, facts and information

There are hundreds of different types of deer, but how many species can you find that have spread across continents and can be found in countries all over the world? Deer can be found in many places, and each species has its own distinctive qualities. This being said, not all of them can be found in natural spaces outside of their areas of origin. The fallow deer is one of the most common examples of this kind of antelope.

They are clearly an adaptable and widespread species, making it worthwhile to find out more about them. That includes information as to where they come from originally.

What Is A Fallow Deer?


This creature is an animal from the broader antelope or gazelle family. It is a distinctive deer with spots, or rather; a distinctive deer with white spots (depending on the color variant and the season).

To paint a picture of this creature fallow deer antlers signify the fallow buck, which is the male. On the other hand, the fallow doe being the female doesn’t have antlers and is a lot smaller than the male. This is known as sexual dimorphism. The young are known as fawns.

The antlers are not only for protection and a way to identify the sex of an animal but also form an integral part of animal behavior particularly when it comes to rutting. Rutting is the competition that takes place between males using the antlers during mating season to establish dominance and find a mate.

The antlers are so important that they are a part of the animal from the beginning of its life. They start off as single spikes for the first two years and then grow larger and more expansive as the animal does.

They definitely play a defining role in the success of the buck too, as studies show that size is directly related to dominance when it comes to power dynamics in the herd.

Interestingly, the name for this gazelle in Serbian and Croatian is jelen lopatar, or shovel deer, which refers to the shape of the antlers. As the name suggests, the antlers are broad and flat like a shovel is. Interestingly, this Old World animal is the only one that has flat antlers. These also have a number of small tines, also known as sharp points.


These kinds of animals are quite agile and can run at a maximum speed of 30 miles per hour. They are typically less muscular than other similar kinds of gazelle, so they are less fast. However, they can jump to 5.8 ft high. In fact, they have a particular form of jumping when defending themselves known as stotting.

Information On The Species

Here is a healthy bit of information for you. The scientific name for the species is Dama dama. It is a ruminant mammal and belongs to the scientific family Cervidae.


Their overall lifespan is 12-16 years, and fawns are usually born in the spring. As with many other mammals, the males do not play a role in raising the young. The females, on the other hand, will spend a year looking after and feeding their fawns until they become fully self-sufficient.


The typical habitat of this creature includes mixed woodland and grassland. They are grazers, a fact which links them to their ruminant status. Being ruminant means they have more than one stomach to digest plant matter.

In a natural environment, they typically eat things like herbs, foliage, grasses and sometimes woody browsing material.

Rutting season

During mating or rutting season, herds spread out and females move in between the different groups. This is because the animals only congregate at one time in the year to mate. This is a process that involves males fighting with each other to prove their strength and to mate with certain females.

This process lasts 134 days and is very complex and competitive. It also involves several behavioral activities such as urinating to attract the attention of a potential mate. Females go through hormonal changes that alert the males to their readiness to breed. The success of a male in this period depends on his size and rank within the group, which is known as a lek.

This process of lekking involves the females moving to the groups of males. That being said, it can work the other way around with harems. Other kinds of behavioral groups during rutting season include dominance groups, stands, temporary stands, and multiple stands. During other parts of the year, the animals stick together in groups of about 150.

The social organization of the actual herd is also complex. It depends heavily on the physical nature of the surrounding area including the vegetation and the overall resources available.

Fallow color

The name given to this creature actually comes from the color fallow itself, which refers to a shade of pale brown. The actual deer color, therefore, refers to the way in which the animal matches this exact shade. This is opposed to other similar kinds of animals which may be a different shade of brown and have different markings.

It must be noted that there can be extreme variation in the color and appearance of the coat. There are four main variations namely common, menil, melanistic, and leucistic.

  • The common kind of coat is a chestnut color with white mottles, most pronounced in summer. In winter, the coat will become darker with no spots.
  • The menil coat means more distinctive spots in summer. In winter, you can still see the spots even though the coat is darker.
  • The melanistic coloring is dark all year round.
  • Lastly the leucistic coloring is the white fallow deer which is pure white with cream white fawns. This kind of animal is not an albino which has no pigment, but rather a distinct coloring. Although not as common, the white fallow deer species of this buck can be seen in zoos and in some parts of New Zealand.

If you’re looking to get a real insight into the animal’s coloring though, it’s helpful to take some pictures with a specific kind of deer camera to make sure you get a decent shot to study.

Where Are Fallow Deer From?

As humans have spread out all over the world, so have animals. This particular one has quite incredibly managed to find its way from Eurasia all the way to North and South America, as well as to Africa and Oceania.

Fallow deer originally come from Asia but were introduced to central Europe with the Romans. Evidence of their bones dated from the 1st century AD have been found in southern England. Over time, they have been introduced to places such as Argentina, Greece, the USA, South Africa, and New Zealand.

This successful relocation shows that certain areas of the world might be more similar than you think when it comes to species adaptation.

Some of the most famous herds can be found in Otenbury Preserve in Sweden, and in Phoenix Park in Dublin, Ireland.

In the United States specifically, the animal is found in certain areas and wildlife reserves, including the following:

  • a barrier island in Georgia
  • large game ranches in Texas
  • Rhode Island
  • Pennsylvania where they are considered livestock because they aren’t really breeding in the wild. If the animals are wild, it means that they have often escaped from farms.
  • Argonne National Laboratories in northeastern Illinois where the white variety is found
  • Belle Isle Nature Zoo in Detroit, Michigan which has a small herd of mostly white gazelles
  • The oldest herd in the USA is found inland between the Lakes National Recreation Area (LBL) in far western Kentucky and Tennessee
  • Point Reyes National Seashore, California (including the white variety)

Different laws apply in different locations, but most of the time fallow deer were brought to the specific areas for hunting. However, today, this might not be the case for all of them as more effort is put into their conservation and protection.

Their Value

According to experts, there is the common Fallow Deer species as well as one that comes from Persia known as Dama dama mesopotamica.

The latter Persion species is very rare, endangered, and not commonly found in the wild. The typical surroundings where it might be found include river areas that extend into the desert.

Overall, deer come from a long lineage of antelope called Megacerines. These were an important part of Ice Age civilizations making their mark on the world thousands of years ago.

We know this because their bones were found in ancient human settlements which shows how valuable these creatures were to society at the time.

In fact, while they might not be indigenous to every place where they can be found, fallow deer have become an important part of the places where they’ve lived for a long time, like the United States.

They’ve even proved this through integration with the local environment and adapting to compete with the local fauna, which includes other species of deer.

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