Fallow deer

Fallow deer

Dama dama

Common name:

Fallow deer

Scientific name:

Dama dama

Alternative common names:


Like many species of deer, fallow deer are active throughout the 24-hour period, but in areas where human disturbance is high, they tend to be more active at night. They typically graze on grasses and rushes, but may also browse on young leaves and berries. For most of the year, males and females occur in separate single-sex groups, and large herds of fallow deer can congregate in open areas where there is plenty of food.

Additional Information

Where does this species come from?


What is its invasive status in South Africa?

NEMBA Category 2.

Where in South Africa is it a problem?

Eastern Cape, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.

How does it spread?

They escape from their range and parks.

Why is it a problem?

They are a pest in agricultural lands and impact plant communities through browsing.

What does it look like?

Description: The male fallow deer is known as a buck, the female is a doe and the young is a fawn. Adult buck are 140–160cm long, have an 85–95cm shoulder height and typically weigh 60–100kg. Does are 130–150cm long, have a 75–85cm shoulder height and weigh 30–50kg. Larger buck can measure up to 190cm long and weigh 150kg. Fawns are born in spring and are about 30cm long and weigh around 4.5kg. Their coats range in colour from white or almost white, chestnut with white mottles and brown to sometimes even black (easily confused with sika deer).

Habitat: This species inhabits mature deciduous and mixed woodland with dense undergrowth. Fallow deer also occur in marshes, meadows and mature conifer plantations.

Breeding: The breeding season or ‘rut’ occurs between October and November. Males hold ‘rutting stands’ to defend groups of females. Rutting behaviour involves displaying, including groaning contests and parallel walks, escalating to physical contests in which the males lock antlers and push each other. One calf is usually produced during June or July.

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