Dama dama | Fallow Deer | Fia buí



Conservation status

Least Concern

Legal status

Specified provisions of Regulations 49 & 50 in the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011 in Republic of Ireland apply to this species (NB Regulation 50 not yet commenced).

First reported in the wild



Invasive species - risk of High Impact

Irish status


Introduction pathways - 1

Release in Nature

Introduction pathways subclass - 1


Invasive score


NAPRA Ireland risk assessed


Species Biology


Medium sized deer, only red deer are larger, though smaller individuals may be similar in size to sika deer, it the only deer species in Ireland with palmate antlers (Langbein et al., 2009). Typically fawns have a reddish coat with white spots on the flanks and back in summer but a wide variety of colours from white to nearly black, with a white rump but tail much longer than in sika extending down below the rump (Langbein et al., 2009). Can be confused with sika deer, stags can be distinguished by the palmate antlers, while in fawns the white spots are less apparent in sika deer but tail length may be the best indicator (Langbein et al., 2009). Strongly sexual dimorphic species (male larger than female), mature stags (>2 years) typically 840-940mm in height weighing 40 -70kg, mature hinds 730-910mm in height weighing 30-50 kg (Langbein et al., 2009).


Grazer of woodlands as well as feeding in agricultural lands (Langbein et al., 2009), fallow deer have the potential to influence natural, agricultural and forestry habitats in a variety of ways however due to the long history of naturalisation no known quantitative value of impacts are available.


Woodland, forest and other wooded land; Constructed, industrial or other artificial habitats; Regularly or recently cultivated agricultural, horticultural or domestic habitat


Seasonal polygynous breeders, rutting in October to November with a single fawn born in June or July (Langbein et al., 2009). Mating system can vary between populations and geographic areas but typically consists of males competing for control of a harem of females (Langbein et al., 2009). For a more detailed account of fallow deer rutting behaviour in the Phoenix Park see (Jennings et al., 2003; Jennings et al., 2004; McElligott et al., 2001).

Pathway and vector description

Introduced into Ireland by the Normans for food and hunting, they were subsequently kept in 'deer parks' on large estates from the 14th century on but escaped into the wild and are now occur in every county in Ireland (Langbein et al., 2009; Lever, 2009).

Mechanism of impact

Competition, Grazing/Herbivory/Browsing

Broad environment


Habitat description

Woodland species, they are found in mature woodland, mixed woodland and coniferous plantations but will emerge to graze on agricultural land using the woodland as cover (Langbein et al., 2009). Still found in some parks, including the Phoenix Park in Dublin.

Species group


Native region


Similar species

Sika deer

 Red deer


World distribution(GBIF)

Irish distribution

Established - Widespread. Species underwent a 174% range expansion between 1978 and 2008 (Carden et al., 2010). Concentration of records in Clare, Limerick and east Cork/Waterford with few records from the corners of the country, south west, south east, Donegal and to lesser extent Antrim may be a true distribution or an artefact of recording effort. Review of the distribution of deer in Ireland in (Carden et al., 2010).

Native distribution

Due to the long history of introduction, extending back to the Romans, the original native range is unknown but thought to be Turkey, Iran and the Balkan peninsula, with the only truly natural population now confined to Turkey (Masseti & Mertzanidou, 2008). Widely introduced elsewhere.

Temporal change

Date of first record category


Fifty year date category


Records submitted to Data Centre in 2022

The following map is interactive. If you would prefer to view it full screen then click here.

How can you help

Report any sightings to the National Biodiversity Data Centre.

Further information

Deer are legally protected in Ireland and can only be hunted during certain periods and under licence. The exception to this is the invasive Muntjac deer (Muntiacus reevesi) which has a year round open hunting to allow for control of the species. Contact National Parks and Wildlife Service for more information.



Carden, R., Carlin, C. M., Marnell, F., McElholm, D., Hetherington, J. & Gammell, G (2010). Distribution and range expansion of deer in Ireland. Mammal Review. 41(4), 313-325.

Jennings, D. J., Gammell, M. P., Carlin, C. M., & Hayden, T. J. (2003). Is the parallel walk between competing male fallow deer, Dama dama, a lateral display of individual quality?. Animal behaviour, 65(5), 1005-1012.

Jennings, D. J., Gammell, M. P., Carlin, C. M., & Hayden, T. J. (2004). Effect of body weight, antler length, resource value and experience on fight duration and intensity in fallow deer. Animal Behaviour, 68(1), 213-221.

Langbein, J., Chapman, N.G. & Putman, R. J. (2009) Genus Dama Fallow deer Dama dama. In: Mammals of the British Isles: Handbook, 4th edition, Harris, S. & Yalden, D.W. (eds), Mammal Society, Southampton, UK.

Lever, C. (2009) The Naturalized Animals of Britain and Ireland. New Holland Publishers, London, UK.

Masseti, M. & Mertzanidou, D. 2008. Dama dama. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008. [Online].

McElligott, A. G., Gammell, M. P., Harty, H. C., Paini, D. R., Murphy, D. T., Walsh, J. T., & Hayden, T. J. (2001). Sexual size dimorphism in fallow deer (Dama dama): do larger, heavier males gain greater mating success?. Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology, 49(4), 266-272.

Mammal Atlas of Ireland - Fallow deer