The fallow deer (Dama dama) is a common ruminant mammal, native to western Eurasia, but has been introduced widely elsewhere, for hunting and as “decoration”.
The fallow deer is a Eurasian deer that was a native to most of Europe during the last Interglacial. In the Holocene, the distribution was restricted to the Middle East and possibly also parts of the Mediterranean region, while further southeast in western Asia was the home of the Persian fallow deer, that is bigger and has larger antlers. In the Levant, fallow deer were an important source of meat in the Palaeolithic Kebaran-culture (17000–10000 BC), as is shown by animal bones from sites in northern Israel, but the numbers decreased in the following epi-Palaeolithic Natufian culture (10000–8500 BC), perhaps because of increased aridity and the decrease of wooded areas.
The fallow deer is easily tamed and is often kept semi-domesticated in parks today. Here in Moose Manor we have 3 fallow deers at the moment, one buck and two does. Also two in spring 2014 born fawns.
The male fallow deer is known as a buck, the female is a doe, and the young a fawn. Adult bucks are 140–160 cm long with a 85–95 cm shoulder height, and typically 60–100 kg in weight; does are 130–150 cm long with a 75–85 cm shoulder height, and 30–50 kg in weight. The largest bucks may weigh 150 kg. Fawns (usually one, sometimes two at a time) are born in spring (in June) at about 30 cm and weigh around 4.5 kg. The life span is around 12–16 years.
The species has great variations in the colour of their coats, with four main variants: common (chestnut coat with white mottles that are most pronounced in summer with a much darker, unspotted coat in the winter), menil: spots more distinct than common in summer and no black around the rump patch or on the tail, and in winter, spots still clear on a darker brown coat. Melanistic (black): all year black shading to greyish-brown. No light-coloured tail patch or spots, and leucistic (white, but not albino). Most herds consist of the common coat variation, yet it is not rare to see animals of the menil coat variation. The Melanistic variation is rarer and white very much rarer still.
Only bucks have antlers, which are broad and shovel-shaped (palmate) from three years. In the first two years the antler is a single spike. They are grazing animals; their preferred habitat is mixed woodland and open grassland. During the rut in late autumn (in october) bucks will spread out and females move between them, at this time of year fallow deer are relatively ungrouped compared to the rest of the year when they try to stay together in groups of up to 150.
Agile and fast in case of danger, fallow deer can run up to a maximum speed of 48 km/h over short distances (being naturally less muscular than other cervids such as roe deer, they are not as fast). Fallow deer can also make jumps up to 1.75 metres high and up to 5 metres in length.