New Forest
 - Explorers
     Guide
New Forest
Explorers Guide
Wildlife composite image
Pony near Hampton Ridge
For comprehensive information about the New Forest National Park
For comprehensive information about the New Forest National Park
MENU

New Forest mammals - an introduction

Sika stag
Sika stag

The New Forest is perhaps best known for its deer. Fallow deer, red deer and roe deer are fairly widespread and can often be seen; whilst sika deer are found in reasonable numbers, but generally only in the south of the area.

Muntjac deer are also present, but these tiny creatures are secretive and rarely seen, although their barking calls can sometimes be heard by those who regularly venture out into the woods.

Badgers are reasonably widely distributed, and so are foxes and rabbits, although in the New Forest, the latter occur at lower densities than in prime habitats elsewhere. (Perhaps surprisingly, animals of all three species often share the same tunnel system).

Grey squirrels are successful colonisers despite sometimes determined attempts by man to keep down their numbers. Sadly, however - as is now well-known - grey squirrels and red squirrels are unable to live together, and so when the grey squirrels arrived, the local red squirrels were driven out, could not compete for food or living space, or, more probably, fell victim to disease brought in by the interlopers.

Hedgehogs are scarce on the Crown lands of the New Forest - there is little suitable food for them - and hares are very rarely seen, probably for the same reason.

Mice, voles and shrews also occur only in modest numbers compared to many places elsewhere – heavy grazing by deer and commoners’ stock, and the consequent removal of ground level vegetation, does not suit them - and stoats and weasels are largely absent.

Bats of a variety of species, including the nationally rare Bechstein's and Barbastelle bats, are, however, present, sometimes in good numbers, but, of course, these flying mammals of the night skies are only likely to be seen or heard by enthusiasts out after dark.

Find out more about New Forest mammals

Quick links

More links


 Search this site


** New Forest ponies **
New Forest ponies in the road
Ponies, cattle, pigs, sheep and donkeys are a popular part of the New Forest scene, but during the first six months of 2018, 36 animals were killed or injured on Forest roads, compared with 26 in the same period in 2017, a shocking rise of 38%. And in the full year, 63 animals were killed on the roads compared to 56 in 2017.
** Always take care when driving **
New Forest seasonal highlights
June
Badgers can now often be watched above ground well before darkness falls.
Deer - fallow, red, roe, sika and muntjac deer are all present - give birth, although the youngsters are unlikely to be noticed until July.
Heath spotted-orchids add delicate pink colour to many of the heaths.
Hobbies, dashing birds of prey, can often be seen aloft, hawking for insects.

July
Silver-washed fritillary butterflies brighten many woodland rides.
Bird song subsides as the annual moult begins, old worn feathers are cast off and new replacements grown.
Wild gladiolus plants bloom. (In the UK, this species is found only in the New Forest).
Dragonflies and Damselflies take to the wing in ever increasing numbers.
Content produced by Andrew Walmsley
Content produced by Andrew Walmsley