Deer Species in Devon
Deer Species In Devon and Cornwall
Red Deer (Cervus elaphus)
In the UK our largest land-mammal is the Red Deer. The summer coat is reddish brown changing to a winter coat that is brown to grey. Male Red deer are called ‘Stags’ and females are ‘Hinds’.
A Red Stag reaches an adult size of 110-190kg standing 107-137cm tall at the shoulder. Hinds range between 70-120kg and up to 107-122cm tall. Deer living on the open hill in Scotland are much smaller than those in Devon and Cornwall’s lowland woodlands. Some of the biggest and healthiest herds of Red Deer can be found in Devon and the South West of England. They have a life expectancy of between 12 – 16 years.
Red Deer are grazers of grasses and any green crops as well as woody browse and tree shoots when other food is limited during wintertime.
Fallow Deer (Dama dama)
Fallow deer in Devon and Cornwall are intermediate in size between roe and red deer. There are four main variations in coat colour. The most common variety in our area of the South West is the tan/fawn colour with white spotting that becomes long and grey with indistinct spots during winter.
Upon reaching adult size a Fallow Buck will measure 84 to 94cm at shoulder and weigh 46 to 94kg. Does will be slightly smaller at 73 to 91cm at shoulder and 35 to 56kg in weight. The average life span of a Fallow deer is 10 – 12 years.
Fallow deer prefer a habitat of mature broadleaf woodland with under-storey, open coniferous woodland as well as open agricultural land. They are preferential grazers of grasses and crops although trees and dwarf shrub shoots will be taken during autumn and winter as well as winter wheat plantings. The size of Fallow deer herds varies according to population density and habitat. It is not unusual in our part of the country to observe 20 or more does in a single herd. Fallow deer are abundant in the South West of England especially in Devon and Cornwall.
Roe Deer (Capreolus capreolus)
Roe Deer in Cornwall and Devon are reddish brown in the summer and grey or pale brown in the winter. A male Roe Deer is called a ‘buck’ and a female is called a ‘doe’. The average adult size 10 to 25kg, 60 to 75cm at shoulder.
The average lifespan of a Roe deer is 8 – 10 years. The does birth twins and occasionally triplets yearly in May to June after a gestation period of 9 months. The ‘fawns’ will stay with their mother until 12 months old after which time she will drive them off. Bucks are mainly solitary, but will form small groups in winter.
Roe Deer are browsers that actively select different food types including herbs, brambles, ivy, heather, coniferous and hardwood tree shoots. If you have a new tree planting and you have excessive numbers of Roe deer on the property they will severely damage the new trees by nipping out the top buds, stunting all future tree growth.