Red deer (Cervus elaphus)
- Where? Most large forests, particularly near the forest edge and in clearings.
- When? Any time of year, but they spend more time among the trees in autumn and winter.
- Size? Males stand up to 4 ½ feet (135 cm) at the shoulder, females up to 4 feet (120 cm).
Where do they live?
Red deer originally lived on the woodland edge, but centuries of reduction in forest cover in Britain has forced them to adapt to life on the open hill. They move naturally between woodland and moorland, and if they can find shelter and food among the trees they’ll be healthier and larger.
What do they eat?
They graze a wide variety of plants, from grasses and heather to shrubs and trees. They only cause damage to the forest if there are too many of them.
When is the best time to see them?
Early morning or in the evening are good times, when the woodland is quiet. They spend more time among the trees in the autumn and winter, but you’ll need sharp eyes to spot them: their russet coat is well camouflaged in the forest shade.
During the rut in September and October you might well hear them even if you don’t see them. Stags call out with throaty roars and groans that echo through the forest.
Where might you see them?
The Red Deer Range in Galloway Forest Park has a viewing hide and guided visits where you can learn more about these majestic animals. You might spot them in almost any large forest, but Kinloch on Skye and Glen Affric have particularly good populations.