Guide by Ed Snell – Project Support & Development at NatureSpy
How many different types of deer are there in Yorkshire?
There are three main species of deer found in Yorkshire: red deer, roe deer and fallow deer. Red and roe are Yorkshire’s only native deer species – although fallow have been here for a long time – it’s believed they were introduced by the Norman’s sometime around the 11th century. There are occasional records of muntjac deer, mainly towards the south of the county. Sika deer sightings are also occasionally reported, nearer the Yorkshire Dales. Both muntjac and sika deer were introduced to Britain within the last 200 years. Chinese water deer are the only other species of deer in the UK: although they are not found in Yorkshire and are currently mainly present in the southeast of England.
How do you tell apart red, roe and fallow deer?
There are key characteristics of each deer species that help with confident identification and the clues are mostly on the rump and face! Coat colour can be misleading when identifying deer, as they can be highly variable and change colour between summer and winter.
Red deer identification
Red deer are the largest land mammal in Britain, with the males (stags) weighing up to 190kg and reaching 1.37m tall. That’s about 7-8 times the weight of a roe deer! Unlike the more solitary roe deer, red deer can form large herds, with a preference for grazing on grasses and small shrubs. Their red summer coat changes to brown in winter and they have a buff-coloured rump with a short tail.
Red deer staring into the camera trap – North York Moors
Where can you see red deer in Yorkshire? There are records of red deer in many places across the county. Our camera traps have recorded them most often in the larger forests on the southeast side of the North York Moors.
How to identify red deer in camera trap footage: Their sheer size! Compare them to any other species you see on your camera trap to gain some perspective.
Fallow deer identification
Fallow deer form herds and can weave intricate trails across the forest floor from repeated use of the same routes. They are a medium-large sized deer – between the sizes of red and roe – with the largest bucks (males) weighing up to 93kg and 0.93m tall. The palmate antlers of the bucks have a distinctive shape, loosely resembling the palm of a hand with extended fingers. Fallow deer prefer to graze on grasses and small shrubs. Their darker (black or brown) hind markings and long tail are a distinctive characteristic, appearing very different to the rumps of red and roe deer.
Fallow deer in a broadleaf woodland on the North York Moors
Fallow deer have the most varied coats of all the deer species in the UK, there are four main variations:
Common: tan colour with white spots in summer, grey in winter.
Menil: paler than common with white spots year-round, grey in winter.
White: the lightest of the four, not to be confused with albino.
Where can you see fallow deer in Yorkshire? Much like red deer, there are reports of fallow deer all across the county. Our camera traps have recorded them most often in forests across the southwest side of the North York Moors.
How to identify fallow deer in camera trap footage: The distinctive light and dark markings of the rump are unique to this species. You will often see their long tail moving if you have a view of their side.
Fallow deer have distinctive markings surrounding their long tail
Roe deer identification
Roe deer are a common sight in Yorkshire and they account for 95% of our deer footage on the North York Moors! They weigh between 10-25kg and reach around 0.75m tall, browsing on a wide variety of plants and trees. Roe deer have a rusty red coloured coat in the summer that turns grey in the winter. Compared to red and fallow deer, roe are more solitary animals, although they will group up more in open areas. Roe deer have unique facial markings that help with identification: black eyes, nose and mouth and a white chin. They have a white rump but no tail, helping to distinguish them from roe and fallow deer.
Roe deer, North York Moors.
Where can you see roe deer in Yorkshire? Roe deer are present all across Yorkshire. Our trail cameras have picked them up in every forest we’ve surveyed on the North York Moors.
How to identify roe deer in camera trap footage: The black facial markings of roe deer will often stand out in contrast to the lighter chin.
The contrast of the black and white facial markings of roe deer
Below – rumps compared! Red deer: buff. Roe deer: white. Fallow deer: dark and light.