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Information : Species : Roe

Roe Deer (Capreolus capreolus)

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                                  Female                                                                Male
    Roe female Roe male

Adult Size. 10 to 25kg, 60 to 75cm at shoulder (bucks - males slightly larger than does - females).

Colouration. Summer: reddish brown. Winter: grey, pale brown or (occasionally) black.

Antlers. Rugose, short (<30cm), 3 tines (points) on each.

Lifespan. Heavy mortality may occur shortly after birth and during first winter.




Social groups. Solitary, forming small groups in winter.

Time of birth. May to June.

Number of offspring. Up to 3, usually 2 kids.

Gestation period. 9 months (4 months of  no embryonic growth followed by 5 months of foetal growth).

Food & feeding. Browsers that activley select different food types including herbs, brambles, ivy, heather, bilberry & coniferous/deciduous tree shoots. To view amateur footage of a roe deer follow this link:">

Habitat. Woodland and forest, but may occupy fields when at high densities.Status. Common & widespread. UK Distribution. Throughout Scotland and England except parts of Kent and the Midlands. Invading Wales from England. Recognition. Small & elegant. White rump patch with short tush in females. Black nose, white chin. Bounding gait when alarmed.

Origins & history. Roe deer are native to Britain, having been present since before the Mesolithic period (6000 to 10000 years b.p.). Forest clearance and over-hunting led to roe deer becoming extinct in England by 1800 but remained in wooded patches in Scotland. Several reintroductions during Victorian times and their subsequent, natural spread aided by an increase in woodland and forest planting in the 20th century has meant that roe deer have become widespread and abundant today.

Distribution of roe deer in 10km squares in England & Wales
The rut. The rut, or breeding season, occurs between mid-July to mid-August. Bucks become aggressive and maintain exclusive territories around one or more does prior to this period. Fights between bucks can result in serious injury or death, the winner taking over the losers territory or attendant doe. Does do not maintain exclusive territories but live within overlapping home ranges. Males mate with several females and females mating with several males has also been observed. Courtship involves chasing between the buck and doe for some time until the doe is ready to mate.

Activity. Roe deer are active throughout the 24-hour period but make more use of open spaces during the hours of darkness in populations experiencing frequent disturbance. Peak times of activity are at dawn and dusk. Long periods are spent "lying up", which is where the deer lies down to ruminate between feeding bouts.

Economic factors. Browsing of tree shoots and agricultural crops puts roe deer in conflict with farmers and foresters due to economic damage. Conversely, many country and forest estates can gain substantial revenue from recreational stalking and/or venison production. Whether in conflict or used as a resource, roe deer populations require careful management to maintain health and quality and to ensure a sustainable balance with their environment.

Vocalisation. When alarmed bucks and does (males and females) give a short bark, which is often repeated. During the rut does make a high-pitched piping call to attract a buck who makes a rasping noise as he courts the doe.

Delayed implantation. Although mating occurs in August the fertilised egg does not implant and grow until January. This is thought to be an adaptation to avoid giving birth during harsh northern winters.

Further reading

Roe deer by J. K. Fawcett. Published in 1997 by The Mammal Society, London and The British Deer Society, Fordingbridge.

Roe deer biology and management by P. R. Ratcliffe and B. A. Mayle. Published in 1992 as Forestry Commission Bulletin 105 by HMSO, London.

The handbook of British Mammals, edited by G. B. Corbet and S. Harris. Published in 1991 by Blackwell Scientific Publications, London.
















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