Sika Deer

Scientific Name: 

Cervus nippon


Intermediate in size between roe and red deer. Similar pelage to fallow deer, but darker. Reddish brown to yellow-brown, dark dorsal stripe surrounded by white spots in the summer. Dark grey to black, spots faint or absent during the winter. Tail shorter and with less distinct stripe than fallow. Very distinct white gland on hind leg.
The Sika deer in Great Britain were first introduced into deer parks 1860, usually imported from their native Japan and Taiwan. Over the past 150 years many have escaped and bred successfully in wild.




Up to 15 years


The majority of Sika deer in the Uk are found in Scotland and Ireland, however, there are also small numbers in the south of England, such as the New Forest, as well the Lake District and parts of Lancashire. Sika were first introduced from the Far East into Britain in 1860. Several subspecies, including Chinese, Japanese, Formosan and Manchurian were introduced into parks but the only free living form in Britain is the Japanese Sika. It is possible that almost if not all English and Scottish and some Irish living Sika are descendants from only one stag and three hinds introduced to Viscount Powers court's deer park at Enniskerry, Eire in 1860.


Dense woodland areas esp. coniferous woodlands and heaths on acid soils.


Grazers of grasses and dwarf shrubs, especially heather. Coniferous tree shoots and tree bark may occasionally be taken in small quantities


Sika are fairly unsocial, tending to be solitary for most of the year and only form small groups in winter. The sexes are strongly segregated and occupy discrete geographic ranges for most of the year, only coming together to mate. Sika have a wide repertoire of vocalisations. Stags groan, blow raspberries, yak-yak and give a high-pitched whistle during the rut or can emit a startling scream! Hinds with calves whine and calves reply with a bleat or squeak. When alarmed both sexes give a short, high-pitched bark. Sika are active throughout the 24-hour period but are more active during the hours of darkness in populations experiencing frequent disturbance.


The breeding season, or rut, occurs from the end of September to November. The environment has a strong influence on mating strategy. Typically stags defend a rutting territory, much like fallow deer, and they may also switch to harem-holding when a group of hinds has been assembled. Less typically, males may congregate to form a lek or may simply wander throughout the hinds' range in search for receptive hinds. A single calf (rarely twins) is born during early May to late June after a gestation period of 7


The Sika deer in Scotland and Ireland can often be found in large numbers Introduced, locally abundant and increasing.

Did You Know?: 

It is possible that almost if not all English and Scottish and some Irish living Sika are descendants from only one stag and three hinds introduced to Viscount Powerscourt's deer park at Enniskerry, Eire in 1860

Footprint Image

Footprint Description: 

Rounded cleaves, with distinct outer walls, which occasionally are the only parts of a print visible. Tips pointed, dew claws close together, but only show in splayed tracks due to slippage.

Track Images

Track Description: 

Above are examples of Sika deer Bole scoring. One of the ways Sika stags mark their territory, by gouging their antlers in the trunks of trees during the rut in the autumn. Sika Deer scrape away ground debris to form a bedding site, the area cleared being roughly the size of the animal itself. Above is a shot of a bedding site used by both a Hind and Calf, the size difference between the two areas where the animals lay can be clearly seen. The second image shows a closer view of the Hind`s bedding spot, showing how the leaf litter and debris has been scraped away.

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Droppings Description: 

Similar in appearance to those of Red Deer, but smaller. Regular latrines often used.

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C. nippon



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