Fallow Deer vs. Axis Deer

Written by Janet F. Murray
Updated: October 14, 2022
© iStock.com/Alberto Carrera
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The Fallow deer closely resembles the Axis Deer. It is quite challenging to spot the difference between the two unless you have interacted with them well. Fortunately, neither the Fallow deer nor the Axis deer is on the IUCN endangered list where their classification is that of the least concern. In contrast, the Persian Fallow deer, a subspecies, is on the IUCN endangered list.

The Fallow deer‘s name comes from its pale brown color, and the Latin word Dama dama is used for roe deer, antelopes, and gazelles. In Croatia and Serbia, the name for the fallow deer is jelen lopatar (“shovel deer”) due to the shape of its antlers.

Similarly, the Axis deer, also known as the spotted deer, is golden to rufous (reddish brown) on the upper parts of the body and completely covered in white spots. In addition, the abdomen, rump, throat, ears, tails, and inside of the legs are all white.

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Fallow deer, buck, standing in a field displaying its horns.
Both types of deer are herbivores and have a life expectancy of right around 20 years in captivity.

©Neil Clarke/Shutterstock.com

Fallow Deer vs. Axis Deer: Comparison

Fallow DeerAxis Deer
Scientific NameDama damaAxis
Shoulder height39 inches35 inches
Weight66 – 176 pounds66 – 165 pounds
Antlers15 inches or 1.25 feet111 inches or 3 feet 3 inches
Lifespan3 – 5 years5 – 10 years
Gestation231 – 245 days227 days
Life Expectancy20 years in captivity22 years in captivity
IUCNLeast concernLeast concern
PredatorsHumans, bears, cougars, wolvesTigers, lions, leopards, wolves, crocodiles, humans

Fallow Deer vs. Axis Deer: Size

Fallow deer and Axis deer are very similar in stature and size, except for the Axis deer having slightly longer and larger antlers. Both these deer weigh much the same and have similar shoulder heights.

Fallow Deer: Behavior

The Fallow deer is the only deer that does not lose its white spots, retaining them for life. However, all other species only have white spots while they are fawns. Strangely, Fallow deer typically do not sleep at night as they are nocturnal creatures, and their sleeping behavior is known as bedding. These deer look for a good cover for their bedding time and must have food and water nearby. Because of their bedding behavior, they choose spots as far away from predators as possible, ensuring their bedding has an entrance and an exit. This strategy helps avoid being surprised or attacked by a predator. They gather in small herds of up to six individuals.

Axis Deer: Behavior

Axis deer, also known as Chital, spend most of their time being active in summer. And, because of the sun’s glare, they look for shade to rest during the hottest times of the day. However, once the heat of the sun lessens, they become more active. As the day cools, they begin to forage and continue all night until sunrise. At sunrise, they sleep for a few hours.

Axis deer move in a single file with two to three between them in search of food and water. Should they sense danger, they will stand completely still and listen with rapt attention. Likewise, the others nearby will adopt the same stance. If they become alarmed, they will flee in groups, and their getaway sprints are often followed by hiding in dense undergrowth.

Incredibly these deer are capable of jumping over 4.9-foot fences but prefer diving underneath them. The Axis deer form matriarchal herds of up to 100 individuals. An adult female and her offspring from the present and previous year may be associated with individuals of all ages, male and female.

Fallow Deer vs. Axis Deer: Where Are They Found?

Fallow deer live in Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, Oceania, and South America.
Axis deer live throughout India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanks, Andaman, and the Nicobar Islands. Travelers introduced them to Australia in the early 1800s and the United States in the mid-1800s. They were also introduced to the Croatian island of Brijuni in 1911. The island population is around 200 strong.

Fallow Deer vs. Axis Deer: Diet

Fallow deer are herbivores or plant eaters. Their primary food source is vegetation in the form of leaves and shrubs for browsing and grass for grazing. However, they are not fussy eaters and consume leaves, grasses, buds, herbs, shoots, tree bark shrubs, and flowering plants.

Axis deer graze and browse, with their main diet throughout the year being grasses. When young shoots are no longer available, they nibble at the tips of tall, coarse grasses. They tend to browse in winter when the grasses are dry and no longer palatable. Browsing includes herbs, shrubs, fruits, and foliage.

Baby Fallow deer in the grass in summer on a sunny day.
Fallow deer mature rapidly and start reproducing at just 16 months for the females and 17 months for the males.


Reproduction: Fallow Deer and Axis Deer

Fallow deer males reach sexual maturity at 17 months and females at 16 months. They have a gestation period of around 240 days and are weaned at seven months.

Axis deer breed throughout the year. Their females can conceive within two weeks to four months after birth. Following birth, the mother hides the newborn fawn for a week, a much shorter period than most other deer.

Fallow Deer vs. Axis Deer: Teeth

Deer have 32 teeth in total by the time they reach adulthood. But before this, a fawn’s teeth appear almost immediately after birth, and by the time they are six months old, their adult teeth have begun to replace their milk teeth. Adult deer have all their teeth by 30 months, six incisors, two canines, 12 premolars, and 12 molars. Like most herbivores, deer do not have upper front teeth. But, instead, they have a dental pad that acts as a cutting board for the lower incisors.

Fallow Deer vs. Axis Deer: Predators

Fallow deer are so great in numbers in the United States that authorities organize hunting sessions to keep their numbers in check for conservation reasons. Besides people, their other main predators are bears, cougars, and wolves.

People also hunt Axis deer along with predators such as tigers, lions, leopards, wolves, and crocodiles.

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About the Author

I'm a freelance writer with more than eight years of content creation experience. My content writing covers diverse genres, and I have a business degree. I am also the proud author of my memoir, My Sub-Lyme Life. This work details the effects of living with undiagnosed infections like rickettsia (like Lyme). By sharing this story, I wish to give others hope and courage in overcoming their life challenges. In my downtime, I value spending time with friends and family.

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