Deer and where to see parkland deer

Roe deer (Capreolus capreolus)
Native roe were widespread in the Middle Ages, but later disappeared, and were reintroduced to parts of England about 100 years ago. They are shy, and are most active at dawn and dusk. Their foxy-red summer coat darkens to grey-brown in autumn, but the white patch on the rump remains visible.

Fallow deer (Dama dama)
Beloved of royalty, these most elegant deer are believed to have been introduced by the Normans, but were actually brought by the Romans. The buck’s antlers are covered as they grow with a hairy skin called velvet. Fallow are the only British deer with palmate antlers.

Red deer (Cervus elaphus)
The largest native land mammal in Britain, red deer can live for 25 years. Standing nearly 5ft at the shoulder, their main stronghold is in the Scottish highlands, but they are present across England, especially in the West Country. Stags live separately from the hinds, except during the rutting season.

Sika deer (Cervus nippon)
Native to east Asia, from where they were introduced in the 19th century, all wild sika in Britain are descended from animals that escaped from deer parks. Smaller than the red deer, to which it is closely related, the sika’s chestnut-brown coat is faintly spotted with white in summer, turning greyish-brown in winter.

Chinese water deer (pictured) (Hydropotes inermis)
Threatened in its native China, the British population is thought to account for 10% of the world’s total. The male has no antlers. Instead, adults have tusk-like teeth in their upper jaw that protrude about 2¾in below the upper lip. Their sleek red-brown summer coat turns pale grey-brown in winter.

Muntjac (Muntiacus reevesi)
First introduced from China to the Duke of Bedford’s Woburn estate in 1900, the descendants of escaped animals quickly became established. Well camouflaged by its preferred habitat of dense woodland, the secretive muntjac’s haunches are higher than its withers, giving it a distinctive humpback shape. Muntjac have no fixed breeding season and may give birth every seven months.

Where to see parkland deer

 * Woburn Abbey, Bedfordshire (red deer, Rusa, Père David’s, Axis or Chital,

* Barasingha, Chinese water deer, fallow, Manchurian sika and muntjac)

* Holkham Hall, Norfolk (fallow and red)

* Chatsworth, Derbyshire (fallow and red)

* Houghton Hall, Norfolk (famous for its white fallow, also Barasingha, Sambar,
Chital and Père David’s)

 * Tatton Park, Cheshire (fallow and red)

* Powderham Castle, Devon (fallow)

* Petworth Park, Sussex (fallow)

* Richmond Park, London (fallow and red)


Deer: menace or mismanaged?