The fallow deer is significantly larger than the roe deer, but smaller and above all lighter than a red deer. The European subspecies has a snout-vent length of 120 to 140 cm, a scut (tail) about 20 cm long and a shoulder height of 80 to 100 cm. The weight of males usually varies between 53 and 90 kg, very heavy males can reach a weight of 110 kg in exceptional cases.
The colouration of the coat is seasonally and individually very variable. In normally coloured individuals, the summer coat is light rusty brown with conspicuous white patches. These rows of spots start almost at the rear edge of the thighs and extend over the sides of the rump and the back to the base of the neck. A dark dorsal stripe runs down the middle of the back, which in the European fallow deer continues to the tip of the tail. The dorsal stripe is bordered on both sides by a white spotted line on the back. A conspicuous horizontal, light-coloured line runs down the middle of the side of the body. The underparts of the belly and the legs are pale and self-coloured, the neck is self-coloured pale rusty brown. The so-called mirror (bright spot around the anus) is bordered by a black rim, so that with the dark tail a vivid pattern of the rear part is created. In winter, the fallow deer is brown-grey on the head, neck and ears, blackish on the back and sides, and ash-grey on the underpart. The spotting is then only vaguely visible.
The fallow deer prefers sparse forests with extensive meadows, but is generally very adaptable, so that it can be found in almost all regions of Europe. Ideal fallow deer territories have a dense mosaic of woodlands and fields, with the forest predominantly composed of deciduous trees. The soil is rich in nutrients and produces lush shrub vegetation. The proportion of forest in the respective habitat does not have to be very large, because fallow deer need the forest primarily as cover, but not as a food source.
In Austria, fallow deer are almost exclusively found in enclosures, but can be encountered sporadically.
The text is a translation of an excerpt from Wikipedia (https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Damhirsch). On wikipedia the text is available under a „Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike“ licence. Status: 23 September 2021