A number of animals roam freely across the heath and woodland. Fallow deer can be seen, often in large herds, whereas the Red deer, and its even shyer cousin, the Roe deer, are harder to spot. Shyest of all are the Sika deer, which confine themselves to a small area in the depths of the pine forest just south of the railway line.
Ponies, cattle and donkeys graze throughout the open pastures, wild heathlands, and boggy mires. These are owned by commoners, who pay a small fee for the right to graze the Forest. Those you see about you are never-the-less still very much in a wild state - a fact that is dramatically illustrated during the traditional autumn round-ups. Each commoner has his own brand for you to spot (many local pubs display the full range).
Visitors whose roots are firmly in the town may perhaps be feeling nervous of some of the beasts they encounter. Let me put your mind at rest. Not one of these animals will harm you in any way, provided you respect their independence. A distance of 10 paces from them is safe at all times, providing they have no young at heel, when it is wiser to keep a little further away. The ponies particularly are not noted for their sense of humour, especially if you are tempted to (illegally) feed them!
Pigs are frequently seen during the pannage season. This is in the autumn, when those Forest small-holdings, with Rights of Pannage, can release their pigs to gobble up the 'mast' (ie the fallen fruits of the forest). The favourite and most abundant fruit is the acorn, but beechnuts and sweet chestnuts are also popular.
The viper or adder is naturally feared for its poisonous bite, but is rarely encountered by the casual visitor.