Discover Our Species

Our Deer Species

Within Woburn Abbey Deer Park, you have a chance to see the Red Deer and Fallow Deer, which are native to Britain, as well as seven other species which originally came from Asia. These include the Milu, or Pére David's Deer, which the 11th Duke helped to save from extinction. 

Visitors should keep an eye out for Sika, Axis and Barasingha, and the rare and shy Rusa Deer. You may also see small Muntjac and Chinese Water Deer roaming individually.


Image for Discover Our Species Red Deer

Red Deer

Diet: Grasses, herbs, leaves, buds, shoots and bark
Height: 3'6" - 3'9" (1.1 - 1.2m)
Weight: Up to 551lbs (250kg)
Number of young: 1 calf
Lifespan in the wild: Up to 15 years

The Red Deer is the largest land mammal in Britain. It is also the only species of deer found in Africa. The Woburn stags are world-famous for their magnificent antlers. They lose their antlers every year and regrow new ones during the summer months. They have a reddish-brown coat in the summer and a brown-grey coat in the winter. 

 


Image for Discover Our Species Milu

Milu (also known as Pére David's Deer)

Diet: Grasses and water plants
Height: 3'9" (1.2m) 
Weight: 330 -  551lbs (150 - 250kg)
Number of young: 1 calf
Lifespan in the wild: Up to 23 years

Its Chinese name 'Milu' means 'four unlikes' because it was thought that it had the hooves of a cow, the head of a horse, the antlers of a deer and the body of a donkey. Look out for the calves in summer - you may see them in a group called a 'creche' watched over by several aunts. Stags compete to win command of their herd during the rut in June. 

 


Image for Discover Our Species Chinese Water Deer

Chinese Water Deer

Diet: Plants, grasses and sedges
Height: 16 - 22" (45 - 55cm)
Weight: 20 - 31lbs (9 - 14kg)
Number of young: 2 or 3 fawns
Lifespan in the wild: Up to 10 years

Chinese Water Deer were first introduced in Britain in the 1870s to London Zoo and in 1896 were transferred to Woburn Abbey and later Whipsnade. There are now feral populations of this species of deer in Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire. Chinese Water Deer are great swimmers. You should look out for large rounded ears, protruding tusks in bucks, but no antlers.

 


Image for Discover Our Species Barasingha Deer

Barasingha Deer

Diet: Grasses
Height: Up to 3'7" (1.15m)
Weight: Up to 551lbs (250kg)
Number of young: 1
Lifespan in the wild: Up to 20 years

Woburn's Barasingha Deer can be seen in the grounds around the Paris House restaurant. They do not run with the other deer in the main park as they could potentially cross breed with the Red Deer. The name 'Barasingha' derives from the Hindi words for 'twelve ends' referring to their antlers which usually have 12 tines but can have up to 20. 

 


Image for Discover Our Species Fallow Deer

Fallow Deer

Diet: Grasses, herbs, leaves, buds, shoots and bark
Height: 2'4" - 3'2" (0.75 - 1m)
Weight: 66 - 220lbs (30 - 100kg)
Number of young: 1 fawn, occasionally twins
Lifespan in the wild: Up to 18 years

The Fallow is the only British deer with palmated antlers (wide and almost shovel-shaped at the top). The species is variable in colour with four main variants: 'common' (fawn with white spots), 'menil' (lighter brown), 'melanistic' (black) and 'albinistic' (white, yet not albino). The Fallow Deer at Woburn tend towards the lighter colours.

 


Image for Discover Our Species Manchurian Sika Deer

Manchurian Sika Deer

Diet: Grasses, dwarf shrubs and heathers
Height: 1'6" - 2'9" (50 - 90cm)
Weight: 66 - 220lbs (30 - 100kg)
Number of young: 1 fawn, occasionally twins
Lifespan in the wild: Up to 18 years

Sika were first introduced to Britain in the 19th Century from the Far East. They now roam wild in Scotland and parts of Northern England. During the rut, stags groan, blow, give a high-pitched whistle or even a startling scream to attract females. Look out for white spots on their coat in summer, which disappear in winter when the deer grow a thicker, greyer winter coat. 

 


Image for Discover Our Species Muntjac Deer

Muntjac

Diet: Grasses
Height: 1'3" - 1'7" (42 - 52cm)
Weight: 19 - 39lbs (9 - 18kg)
Number of young: 1 fawn, occasionally twins
Lifespan in the wild: Up to 18 years

Muntjac were first introduced in Britain to Woburn Park and other Estates in the 20th century. Escapes from these private collections led to feral populations of this species of deer around the country. Look out for short antlers and a hunched shape - this is because their haunches are higher than the top of their shoulders. 

 


Image for Discover Our Species Rusa Deer

Rusa Deer

Diet: Grasses
Height: Up to 3'6" (1.1m)
Weight: Up to 176lbs (80kg)
Number of young: 1
Lifespan in the wild: Up to 20 years

Woburn's Rusa Deer herd is the only one in the UK. Rusa are less likely than other deer to fight during the rut. They 'plough' vegetation and amass greenery on their antlers which they use to demonstrate dominance over other males. Look out for large ears and light tufts of hair above the eybrows. Stags develop a mane in winter. 

 


Image for Discover Our Species Axis Deer

Axis Deer

Diet: Grasses
Height: 2'9" (90cm)
Weight: 187lbs (85kg)
Number of young: 1 fawn
Lifespan in the wild: Up to 20 years

In the wild, there is a great partnership between the Axis deer and the Northern plains grey langur, a leaf-eating monkey who acts as a look out high up in the trees. The Axis deer is also known as the Chital Deer. Chital means 'spotted' in Hindustani. Look out for their spots and their three-pronged, curved antlers. 

 

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