Fallow Deer

(Dama dama)




Facts about this animal

The fallow deer is a medium sized deer reaching a head-body length of 130 cm. In males the height at shoulder is 60-80cm, and the body weight 60-85 kg. Does are slightly smaller than the buck, standing 80-85 cm at the shoulder and weighing about 40-60 kg.

Fallow bucks have antlers that, when fully developed, are easily distinguished from the antlers of other deer species as they are palmated or flattened. The palmation is usually fringed with a series of mini points and these are called spellers. The bucks are also characterised by a prominent Adam’s apple and a long penile sheath, known as a brush.

During the last interglacial period, the fallow deer had a wide distribution in Europe. In the holocene, however, the species did not manage to resettle on its own the range lost during the last ice age, but survived only in the eastern Mediterranean, and current European fallow deer popoluations go back to introductions as from Roman times. The introduced fallows were heavily managed, often kept in enclosures, and consequently developed a number of colour variants.


There are four main colours in European Fallow which are: Common, menil, white and black. In the common fallow, the colour of the summer coat is a deep chestnut with white spots, which in winter turns to a dark brown and the spots fade. The tail has a black stripe running along its length and is surrounded by a light coloured area bordered by a black fringe. The menil’s coat is similar except that it has a greater number of spots and the area around the tail is bordered by brown, and that the spots are still visible on the winter coat. White fallow are cream coloured at birth, becoming paler as they mature and adults are almost pure white in winter. No spots are visible in their white coat. Black fallow have no spots at any time of the year and do not have the light area surrounding the tail.

The fallow deer is a social species, which, for most of the year, will live in herds of adult does with yearlings and fawns and separate herds of bucks. The groups then rejoin for the rut, which starts in late August or early September, reaching a peak in October. It is only during the rut that fallow display any territorial behaviour.

Fallow fawns are usually born as singles, rarely twins, between May and early June, weighing approximately 4.5 kg. At birth they can be as varied in colour as the adults but all will be spotted to a greater or lesser degree.

Did you know?
that light-coloured fallow deer become tamer than those with wild-type colouration? Individuals that are lighter or darker coloured than typical specimens are occasionally found in the wild. In human care different colour types have been bred systematically.


Name (Scientific) Dama dama
Name (English) Fallow Deer
Name (French) Daim
Name (German) Damhirsch
Name (Spanish) Ciervo dama
Local names Albanian: Dreri lobator
Croatian: Jelen lopatar
Danish: Dådyr
Dutch: Damhert
Finnish: Kuusipeura
Hungarian: Dámszarvas
Italian: Daino
Lithuanian: Danielius
Norwegian: Dåhjort
Polish: Daniel
Portuguese: Gamo
Slovak: Daniel skvrnitý
Slovenian: Damjak
Spanish: Gamo
Swedish: Dovhjort
Turkish: Alageyik
CITES Status Not listed
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
Johann-Nikolaus Andreae



Range Most of Europe, introduced into many parts of the world
Habitat Deciduous and mixed woodland with dense undergrowth, marshes, meadows and mature conifer plantations
Wild population Approx. 200'000
Zoo population 1880 reported to ISIS (2005)

In the Zoo

Fallow Deer


How this animal should be transported

Hard antlers should be removed before transport under proper restraint and, where required, sedation. No deer with antlers in velvet at a stage of growth which could be damaged easily should be transported where there is a risk of injury.

For air transport, Container Note 73 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations, should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
Richard Bartz

Why do zoos keep this animal

The fallow deer is not threatened species but, in many countries, has been introduced as hunting game, and there are considerable numbers in deer farms for the production of meat, panten (antlers in velvet) and skins. Zoos keep fallow deer for educational purposes - the fallow is a classic example of the Cervinae subfamily but has a distinct type of antlers - or, because they are fairly small and become quite tame, allowing for close encounters with the visitors.


In recent years, many zoos have given up the species, some keeping now the endangered Mesopotamian fallow deer instead.