Dama dama dama

Common Name(s)

Fallow deer




Fallow deer occur on a wide range of habitats, from pasture on farms to dense forest. They mainly inhabit areas of forest with adjacent grassland. They are herbivorous browser and grazer and feed on various leaves and twigs of woody plants, sedges and grasses with a small amount of bark, ferns, lichens and moss.


Fallow deers are a very small deer species and are very variable in colour. Five colour types exist, all present in New Zealand : brownish-black back and grey-brown underside (‘black-phase’, most common form); light red-brown back with pale spits and black dorsal stripe and pale underside (‘common-phase’, uncommon); no black hair (‘menil phase’, rare); summer coat darker than ‘black-phase’ (dark-brown phase’, rare); and very pale brown/cream fading into pure white with age (‘white-phase fallow’, rare).They have long pointed ears and long tail hair. They stay close to the place where they were borne and therefore disperse only very slowly.

Similar Species

Wapiti (Cervus elaphus nelsoni), Red deer (Cervus elaphus scoticus), Sika deer (Cervus nippon), Sambar deer (Cervus unicolor unicolor), Rusa deer (Cervus timorensis), Axis deer (Axis axis), White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus borealis) and hybrids between some of these species.

Threat To Plants

Browsing and grazing of palatable species (they are also inclined to bark-chew), which my alter species regeneration and vegetation composition. When occurring in large numbers they will destroy the understorey of native forest by overbrowsing, grazing, bark stripping and trampling, which consecutively will also increases soil erosion and therefore also the fertility of the site.


Widespread on borht main islands, main wild populations in Aniseed Valley, Blue Mountains, Matamata, Mount Arthur, Paparoa, South Kaipara, South Canterbury, Te Puke and Wanganui.


Weight: 30-85kg; acromial height: 85-95cm;

Year Introduced

1860-1910 (various locations)

Reason For Introduction

Food and game

Colonisation History

First introduced to New Zealand between 1860-1910 in 24 successful releases. By the 1980s only 13 populations remained (Aniseed Valley, Blue Mountains, Matamata, Mount Arthur, Paparoa, South Kaipara, South Canterbury, Te Puke and Wanganui).