Latin Name: Capreolus capreolus
Description: The roe deer is a short and stocky deer with a body length of 95-135cm. The adult roe deer has a coat that in Summer is a red-brown colour and in Winter is a grey-fawn colour. Their coat moults in April or May. Roe deer have a black nose with white marks around it and two large eyes. Their ears are also large and are a grey white colour inside. The rump of the roe deer is white and the tail is very short and barely visible.
The Male Roe Deer
- The male roe deer is called a buck.
- Only the buck has antlers and these are lost in Winter and re-grow by late Spring.
- The male can grow to a height of 75cm at the shoulders.
- The buck can weigh up to 30kg.
The Female Roe Deer
- The female roe deer is called the doe.
- The doe is smaller in size than the male.
- The female can grow to a height of 60cm at the shoulders.
- The doe can weigh up to 16kg.
Habitat: Roe deer mainly live in woodlands and forests, but increased numbers have meant that some now live on more open farmland and scrubland.
Food: The roe deer are herbivores. They graze on a variety of ground vegetation such as grass and herbs. They also eat shoots, leaves and berries especially from holly and beech trees.
Breeding: Breeding takes place in late July and August and is known as the rut. Baby deer are called kids or fawns and are born in the following May or June. Roe deer are unique amongst deer in that they have delayed implantation of the fertilised embryo so that the gestation period (7 months) is delayed until the Winter. The doe can have one or two kids which are nursed for 4-5 months. The kids are usually hidden in long grass. Twins are quite common and sometimes they may have triplets although this is uncommon.
Distribution: Roe Deer are found in Britain, particularly Northern and Western areas of the UK. However they are not generally found in Ireland. They are found in abundance in Europe, particularly Western Europe and they also live in Asia and China. Roe deer can be seen all year round in Britain.
Did You Know?
- Roe deer are shy creatures.
- They are most active at dawn and dusk.
- These hooved animals are very good jumpers.
- Roe kids are spotted at birth but they lose their spots within two months.
- Only the male roe deer grows antlers which are lost in Winter and then re-grow.
- Roe deer will bark when they are frightened or when the males are attracting a mate.
- They live in marked territories which they mark with the scent gland on their head and rump or by urinating.
- The white rump on the deer seems to expand when the deer get excited or frightened.
- Roe deer usually live singly or in small groups of less than ten, although in Winter they can form much larger groups.
- They have a life span of 10 – 18 years.
- The roe deer became extinct in England during the 18th century, but survived in the Highlands.
- This deer has been reintroduced into many parts of England.