Deer species found in Britain

At a glance

 Red Deer

 Fallow Deer

 Roe Deer


 107-137cm Height at shoulder

Stags 90-190kg, .

Females (hinds) 63-120kg,


Shoulder height: 85-100cm

Males: 60-85kg

Females: 30-50kg

Height (at shoulder):


Weight: 18-29kg

Shoulder height:


Weight: 12-15kg





Biggest of the deer species.

Highly branched antlers, increase with age.

 Spotted coat

Palmate antlers

 White or pale coloured patch on rump.

Smallest of deer species

Two backward pointing antlers on males

Roe Deer

Roe deer became extinct in most of England during the 18th century, but they were reintroduced in the 19th century. Before 1960 they were treated as vermin due to the damage they cause to the forestry industry.

Life span
Up to 10-12 years.

Body length: 95-135cm, Height (at shoulder): 63-67cm, Weight: 18-29kg.

Physical Description
These small deer have a white to buff patch on their rump, a black nose and 'moustache', and a white chin. Their coat varies from sandy to reddish-brown in the summer, to grey/ brown or even black in winter.

They moult in the spring, giving the coat a moth-eaten appearance. The antlers, which have no more than three points and are less than 25cm in length, grow in winter, and are shed in the autumn.

Roe deer are found throughout Europe, but they are absent from Ireland, much of Portugal, Greece, and large parts of England and Wales. They also inhabit Asia. They live in woodland, preferably with open patches of ground, and with access to the edges of fields.

Roe deer feed on brambles, roses, herbs, grasses, and the leaves of young broad-leaved trees and bushes - but they are very particular - choosing only the most nutritious items.

Both male and female roe deer are solitary and are highly territorial, with clearly defined boundaries. They scent mark, and these scents give information about the sex, age, and dominance of the individual.

Roe deer have a very good sense of smell and hearing, and their vision is acutely aware of moving objects. When alarmed, roe deer bark.

Roe deer have a gestation period of up to about 294 days, including a period of delayed implantation (where the fertilised egg does not attach itself to the wall of the uterus) of up to 150 days.

They mate in July/August, the fawn is born in the spring, and is brown in colour with rows of white spots on its back and flanks. The fawns are weaned after 6-10 weeks


Fallow deer
Dama dama

Fallow deer were introduced to British parks and forests by the Normans in the eleventh century and have since become the most widespread species of deer in Britain.

Life span
Up to 16 years.

Body length: 130-160cm, Shoulder height: 85-100cm, Weight: Males: 60-85kg, Females: 30-50kg.

Physical Description
Fallow deer have many colour varieties, but they are typically fawn-coloured in the summer and reddish-brown in the winter. They have yellow-white undersides, white spots and a black line that runs along the back to the tip of the tail. The spots become less conspicuous or disappear in winter. Males have palmate (flattened) antlers.

Fallow deer are native to the Mediterranean region of Europe and from Turkey to Iran, but they have been introduced to 38 countries.

Fallow deer typically occupy deciduous woodland with open patches.

They are grazers, feeding on grasses, herbs, berries, acorns and bark.

Fallow deer commonly gather in herds of 4-5, but in good feeding areas, groupings of 70-100 may gather. When competing for access to females, males display by groaning, thrashing their antlers and by walking alongside their opponent. Fighting occurs if both stags are evening matched, and involves wrestling and clashing of antlers.

Does give birth to a single fawn after a gestation period of 31-32 weeks. She usually leaves the herd to look for a hiding place to give birth. After the fawn is born, it remains in its hiding place (in bushes or dense vegetation). The doe returns every four hours to feed it until it is about four months old, when it joins the herd. The fawn is weaned after 7-9 months.




Muntjac deer

Reeves' Muntjac deer, Chinese muntjac, barking deer
Muntiacus reevesi

Muntjac deer were introduced to Woburn Park, Bedfordshire in the early 20th Century. Since then many escapees have reproduced and expanded their populations outwards. Muntjacs were also introduced to parks in Hertfordshire and Northamptonshire.

Life span
Up to 19 years.

Body length: 90cm, Shoulder height: 45-52cm, Weight: 12-15kg.

Physical Description
Muntjacs are small deer, with dark red-brown fur and white patches on the chin, throat and rump. Males have small antlers (max 15cm) that point backwards, and females have tufts of hair in place of antlers. These deer also have tusks, which are actually extended upper canine teeth. The female's tusks are shorter than the male's. Males have a V-shaped marking running from their forehead to their nose.

Muntjacs are native to SE China and Taiwan, but they have been introduced to parks in England and France. In England, they are restricted to the south of the country.

Their preferred habitat is woodland.

Muntjacs are browsers, and feed on shrubs, shoots, grass and shoots. They sometimes cause damage by stripping bark from trees.

Unlike many other species of deer, muntjacs are solitary, but small groups may sometimes gather at feeding areas. They tend to occupy territories of around 14 hectares, which they rarely leave.

Muntjacs bark when disturbed and in the case of females (does), when in season. They are active both day and night, but the main feeding periods are dawn, dusk and in the middle of the day.

Muntjacs breed throughout the year. The gestation period is 210 days and the fawn is weaned after 8 weeks.



Red Deer 
(Cervus elaphus)

Our largest land-mammal. Summer coat is reddish brown to brown, winter coat is brown to grey. No spots present in adult coat. Large, highly branched antlers in the stag (male). Adult size. Stags 90-190kg, 107-137cm at shoulder. Females (hinds) 63-120kg, up to 107-122cm at shoulder. Deer on the open hill in Scotland are smaller than those in lowland English woodland. Antlers. Highly branched. The number of branches increases with age. Up to 16 points in native animals. The angle between the brow tine and the main beam is always more than 90?. This is important in distinguishing red deer from the related sika.

Life span.

Exceptionally up to 18 years. Heavy infant mortality at and shortly after birth and during first winter in some Scottish hill populations.


Widespread and locally common. UK distribution. Native stock common in the Scottish Highlands, Dumfriesshire, Lake District, East Anglia and the south-west of England. Feral stock present in the north of England, north Midlands, East Anglia, the New Forest and Sussex. Habitat. Within its range in England and southern Scotland occurs in woodlands and forests but can adapt to open moor and hill on Scottish hills and south-west England.

Food & feeding.

Grazers of grasses, and dwarf shrubs e.g. heather and bilberry. Woody browse, e.g. tree shoots, is taken when other food is limiting e.g. during winter.