Fallow Deer - Norman invaders


Fallow Deer - Norman invaders

Though probably Britain's most familiar deer, the fallow deer is a continental interloper. Thought to be native to the Eastern Mediterranean, they moved westwards with the Romans, and were finally introduced to the British Isles by the Normans around the 11th century.

Today, they are widespread and the most common deer in England.

The fallow deer is an elegant, medium-sized deer, with a typically spotted coat. Males have broad, palmate antlers. They have long been prized as ornamental species and their history in the UK is closely linked to that of deer parks. Fallow deer are also farmed for their venison.

During the autumnal breeding season, known as the 'rut', males make a loud belly belch to proclaim their territory and fight over the females. This display may involve groaning and stylised walking, but often results in dangerous, physical contact as they lock antlers. The resulting fawns are born the following summer.

Fallow deer prefer deciduous or mixed woodland with large clearings, typically living in small herds. They are more widespread in England and Wales than in Scotland. They eat grasses and herbs, and will browse young, broadleaf trees. They live up to 16 years.

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