Fallow Deer

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The fallow deer, with its spotted fawn coat and broad, flattened antlers, is one of the most familiar looking deer. This nervous creature most often grazes in quiet woodland glades.  Herds of fellow deer live in woodland and parkland habitats. Adaptable in diet and tolerant of a range of climatic conditions, they have been widely introduced around the world for both food and sport.

Habits: In its native range around the Mediterranean and in parts of the Middle East, the fallow deer dwells in deciduous woodland (where trees lose foliage at the end of the growing season), hilly pine woods, and dense scrubland. When introduced elsewhere, the deer thrives in woodland with open patches among the trees.  Wild fallow deer live in small herds, though groups of 70 or more deer are common in parks and estates.  Outside the mating season, males form their own roaming herds separate from the females and young.  With its keen senses of sight, hearing and smell, the fallow deer can detect an intruder and alert other members of it group.

Breeding: Mating accurs from September to February, but most fallow deer mate during the fall rut (mating season). The male marks his territory by scraping the soil with his hooves and antlers, urinating, and breaking branches. He struts back and fourth bellowing loudly, hoping to attract and mate with as ,amy females as possible in the territory.  Pregnant females gives birth the next spring away from the herd and under dense cover. The spotted fawns hide in this cover until they are strong enough to run with the herd. Only males have horns, which begin to grow after the age of two. Every April the fallow deer sheds its antlers. The antlers regrow slightly larger and more elaborate each year.

Food & Feeding: The fallow deer mainly feeds on grasses and herbs in summer, sometimes browsing on bushes and trees. In deer pagers a browse line four to six feet high marks how far up the trees the deer can reach foliage. The trees are often stripped bare below this line because of the deer's voracious feeding habits.  The fallow deer adapts its feeding habits to the changing seasons. In fall and winter it eats nuts, berries, bark strips, fungi, dead leaves, and holly. It feeds throughout the day and night, mainly during early morning and evening in an open clearing with plenty of ground vegetation. The herd grazes across it slowly, but not long enough to exhaust the food supply.  When not feeding, the herd rests under dense cover. The fallow deer rarely drinks, dew and plant moisture supply its water.

Key Facts:
Height: 2 1/2 - 3 ft
Weight: 85 - 225 lbs
Antlers: 2 - 3 ft along curve

Sexual Maturity: Females, 16 months. Males, 4 years.
Mating season: September to February. Peaks during the September to OCtober rut.
Gestation: 230 to 240 days
No. of young: 1 (twins rare)

Habit: Social, forming separate herds outside  the rut.
Diet: Grass, herbs, foliage, berries, nuts, fungi, and bark.
Lifespan: 15 years.

Related Species: The endangered Persian fallow deer is considered either a separate species or a subspecies of the fallow deer.
Distribution: Native to Mediterranean regions and parts of the Middle East. Introduced in Europe and in parts of North America, South America, southern Africa, and Australia.
Conservation: Generally common and increasing in some areas, the adaptable fallow deer is less common in its original range (southern Europe and the Middle East).

Did you know?
Fallow deer living in parks and preserves often forage in trash cans. Many die after swallowing garbage such as ribbon, nylon threads, cigarette butts, balloons and plastic bags.
The fallow deer's relative, the Persian fallow deer, was believed to be extinct until a tiny population was later "rediscovered" in 1955 along the border of Iran and Iraq.

Nature Watch:
The fallow deer has been introduced into habitats all over the world, including many woodland parks of North America.
Males and females have similar colors and markings, but only the male fallow deer gear the characteristic palm shaped antlers.

Features of the Fallow Deer:
Male: Greenish brown summer coat with white spots on the back. Palm shaped antlers.
Female: Smaller than male but has the same coat coloring.
Winter Coat: The spots fade in winter and the coat becomes dark gray and more woolly.
Different coats: Coloring varies in different regions from whitish to dark brown.
Fawn: Remains hidden until old enough to keep up with the herd.

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