Roe deer

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Roe deer
Capreolus capreolus 2 Jojo.jpg
Male (buck) and female (doe) roe deer
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Cervidae
Subfamily: Capreolinae
Genus: Capreolus
C. capreolus
Binomial name
Capreolus capreolus
Areale Capreolus capreolus.jpg
Range of Capreolus capreolus

Cervus capreolusLinnaeus, 1758

The European roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), also known as the western roe deer, chevreuil, or simply roe deer or roe, is a species of deer. The male of the species is sometimes referred to as a roebuck. The roe deer is relatively small, reddish and grey-brown, and well-adapted to cold environments. The species is widespread in Europe, from the Mediterranean to Scandinavia, from Scotland to the Caucasus, and east to northern Iran and Iraq. It is distinct from the somewhat larger Siberian roe deer.



Roe deer in a grassland area Capreolus capreolus (Marek Szczepanek).jpg
Roe deer in a grassland area

The roe deer is a relatively small deer, with a body length of 95–146 cm (3.1–4.8 ft), a shoulder height of 65–85 cm (2.1–2.8 ft), and a weight of 15–60 kg (33–132 lb) where populations from Ural and Northern Kazakhstan are the largest on average followed by those from Transbaikal, Amur, and Primolskil regions. [3] Bucks in good conditions develop antlers up to 20–25 cm (8–10 in) long with two or three, rarely even four, points. When the male's antlers begin to regrow, they are covered in a thin layer of velvet-like fur which disappears later on after the hair's blood supply is lost. Males may speed up the process by rubbing their antlers on trees, so that their antlers are hard and stiff for the duels during the mating season. Unlike most cervids, roe deer begin regrowing antlers almost immediately after they are shed.[ citation needed ]

Distribution and habitat

Roe deer, male and female in Segovia, Spain Corzo 24-10-2015 5.jpg
Roe deer, male and female in Segovia, Spain

Within Europe, the European roe deer occurs in most areas, with the exception of northernmost Scandinavia (north of Narvik) and some of the islands, notably Iceland, Ireland, and the Mediterranean Sea islands; in the Mediterranean region, it is largely confined to mountainous areas, and is absent or rare at low altitudes. Scottish roe deer were introduced to the Lissadell Estate in Co. Sligo in Ireland around 1870 by Sir Henry Gore-Booth, Bt. [4] The Lissadell deer were noted for their occasional abnormal antlers and survived in that general area for about 50 years before they died out. According to the National Biodiversity Data Centre, in 2014 there was a confirmed sighting of roe deer in County Armagh. There have been other, unconfirmed, sightings in County Wicklow. [5] [6]

In England and Wales, roe have experienced a substantial expansion in their range in the latter half of the 20th century and continuing into the 21st century. [7] This increase in population also appears to be affecting woodland ecosystems. [8] At the start of the 20th century, they were almost extinct in Southern England, but since then have hugely expanded their range for no apparent reason and possibly in some cases with human help. In 1884, roe were introduced from Württemberg in Germany into the Thetford Chase area, and these spread to populate most of Norfolk, Suffolk, and substantial parts of Cambridgeshire. In southern England, they started their expansion in Sussex (possibly from enclosed stock in Petworth Park) and from there soon spread into Surrey, Berkshire, Wiltshire, Hampshire, and Dorset, and for the first half of the 20th century, most roe in southern England were to be found in these counties. By the end of the 20th century, they had repopulated much of Southern England and had expanded into Somerset, Devon, Cornwall, Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, Warwickshire, Lincolnshire, and South Yorkshire, and had even spread into mid-Wales from the Ludlow area where an isolated population had appeared. At the same time, the surviving population in Scotland and the Lake District had pushed further south beyond Yorkshire and Lancashire and into Derbyshire and Humberside. [9]

Roe can now be found in most of rural England except for south east Kent and the greater part of Staffordshire and Cheshire, although the expansion is continuing to the extent that before the end of the 21st century, anywhere in the UK mainland suitable for roe may have a population.[ citation needed ] Not being a species that needs large areas of woodland to survive, urban roe are now a feature of several cities, notably Glasgow and Bristol, where in particular they favour cemeteries. In Wales, they are less common, but have been seen as far south west as Cardigan and as far north west as Bangor, and they are reasonably well established in Powys and Monmouthshire.[ citation needed ]

German colonial administrators introduced roe deer to the island of Pohnpei in Micronesia. They are hunted by locals in very steep and heavily vegetated terrain. The meat is openly sold in markets and restaurants in Kolonia, the capital city of Pohnpei and the Federated States of Micronesia.[ citation needed ]

The roe deer is distinct from the somewhat larger Siberian roe deer (Capreolus pygargus) found from the Ural Mountains to as far east as China and Siberia. The two species meet at the Caucasus Mountains, with the European species occupying the southern flank of the mountain ranges and adjacent Asia Minor, and the Siberian species occupying the northern flank of the mountain ranges.[ citation needed ]

It is known that there are roe deer that live in the Red Forest near Chernobyl. [10]

Behaviour and ecology

Ultrasonography of the uterine pregnancy of a roe deer in Bulgaria Ultrasonography of pregnant European roe deer (Capreolus Capreolus).jpg
Ultrasonography of the uterine pregnancy of a roe deer in Bulgaria

In order to mitigate risk while foraging, roe deer remain within refuge habitats (such as forests) during the day. They are likelier to venture into more open habitats at night and during crepuscular periods when there is less ambient activity. Similarly, roe deer are more likely to be spotted in places with nearby forests to retreat to if there is a perceived threat. [11]

The roe deer attains a maximum lifespan (in the wild) of 10 years. When alarmed, it will bark a sound much like a dog and flash out its white rump patch. Rump patches differ between the sexes, with the white rump patches heart-shaped on females and kidney-shaped on males. Males may also bark or make a low grunting noise. Females (does) make a high-pitched "pheep" whine to attract males during the rut (breeding season) in July and August. Initially, the female goes looking for a mate and commonly lures the buck back into her territory before mating. The roe deer is territorial, and while the territories of a male and a female might overlap, other roe deer of the same sex are excluded unless they are the doe's offspring of that year.[ citation needed ]


Roe deer tracks Roe deer track03.jpg
Roe deer tracks

The roe deer is primarily crepuscular, very quick and graceful, and lives in woods, although it may venture into grasslands and sparse forests. They feed mainly on grass, leaves, berries, and young shoots. They particularly like very young, tender grass with a high moisture content, i.e., grass that has received rain the day before. Roe deer will not generally venture into a field that has had or has livestock (sheep, cattle) in it because the livestock make the grass unclean. A pioneer species commonly associated with biotic communities at an early stage of succession, during the Neolithic period in Europe, the roe deer was abundant, taking advantage of areas of forest or woodland cleared by Neolithic farmers. [12]


Roe deer fawn, two to three weeks old Kid-jbk.jpg
Roe deer fawn, two to three weeks old

The polygamous roe deer males clash over territory in early summer and mate in early autumn. During courtship, when the males chase the females, they often flatten the underbrush, leaving behind areas of the forest in the shape of a figure eight called 'roe rings'. Males may also use their antlers to shovel around fallen foliage and soil as a way of attracting a mate. Roebucks enter rutting inappetence during the July and August breeding season. Females are monoestrous and after delayed implantation usually give birth the following June, after a 10-month gestation period, typically to two spotted fawns of opposite sexes. The fawns remain hidden in long grass from predators; they are suckled by their mother several times a day for around three months. Young female roe deer can begin to reproduce when they are around 6 months old.[ citation needed ] During the mating season, a male roe deer may mount the same doe several times over a duration of several hours. [13]

The world-famous deer Bambi (the titular character of the book Bambi, A Life in the Woods (1923) and its sequel Bambi's Children (1939), by the Austrian author Felix Salten) was originally a roe deer. When the story was adapted into the animated feature film Bambi (1942), by the Walt Disney Studios, Bambi was changed to a mule deer, and accordingly, the setting was changed to a North American wilderness. These changes made Bambi a deer species more familiar to mainstream US viewers. [14]

See also

Related Research Articles

Deer A family of mammals belonging to even-toed ungulates

Deer or true deer are hoofed ruminant mammals forming the family Cervidae. The two main groups of deer are the Cervinae, including the muntjac, the elk (wapiti), the red deer, the fallow deer, and the chital; and the Capreolinae, including the reindeer (caribou), the roe deer, the mule deer, and the moose. Female reindeer, and male deer of all species except the Chinese water deer, grow and shed new antlers each year. In this they differ from permanently horned antelope, which are part of a different family (Bovidae) within the same order of even-toed ungulates (Artiodactyla).


Antlers are extensions of an animal's skull found in members of the deer family. Antlers are true bone and are a single structure. They are generally found only on males, with the exception of the reindeer/caribou. Antlers are shed and regrown each year and function primarily as objects of sexual attraction and as weapons in fights between males for control of harems.

Reindeer species of deer, also known as caribou

The reindeer, also known as the caribou in North America, is a species of deer with circumpolar distribution, native to Arctic, sub-Arctic, tundra, boreal, and mountainous regions of northern Europe, Siberia, and North America. This includes both sedentary and migratory populations. Rangifer herd size varies greatly in different geographic regions. The Taimyr herd of migrating Siberian tundra reindeer in Russia is the largest wild reindeer herd in the world, varying between 400,000 and 1,000,000. What was once the second largest herd is the migratory boreal woodland caribou George River herd in Canada, with former variations between 28,000 and 385,000. As of January 2018, there are fewer than 9,000 animals estimated to be left in the George River herd, as reported by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. The New York Times reported in April 2018 of the disappearance of the only herd of southern mountain caribou in the contiguous United States with an expert calling it "functionally extinct" after the herd's size dwindled to a mere three animals.

Père Davids deer A species of mammals belonging to the deer, muntjac, roe deer, reindeer, and moose family of ruminants

The Père David's deer, also known as the milu or elaphure, is a species of deer native to the river valleys of China. It grazes mainly on grass and aquatic plants. It is the only extant member of the genus Elaphurus. Based on genetic comparisons, Père David's deer is closely related to the deer of the genus Cervus, leading many experts to suggest merging Elaphurus into Cervus, or demoting Elaphurus to a subgenus of Cervus.

Fallow deer A genus of deer consisting of the [[fallow deer]] and [[Persian fallow deer]]

The fallow deer is a species of ruminant mammal belonging to the family Cervidae. It is native to Europe, but has been introduced around the world.

Sika deer Species of deer native to much of East Asia

The sika deer also known as the spotted deer or the Japanese deer, is a species of deer native to much of East Asia, and introduced to various other parts of the world. Previously found from northern Vietnam in the south to the Russian Far East in the north, it is now uncommon in these areas, excluding Japan, where the species is overabundant.

Elds deer A species of mammals belonging to the deer, muntjac, roe deer, reindeer, and moose family of ruminants

Eld's deer, also known as the thamin or brow-antlered deer, is an endangered species of deer endemic to South Asia. The species was first described and given its binomial name from specimens obtained in Manipur in India in 1839. The Manipur name for the deer was noted as Sungnaee and it was described in 1842 by John McClelland as being "nondescript" but it was given the name Cervus eldi by Guthrie. in honour of Lt. Percy Eld, a British officer who was attached to the residency at Manipur. The three subspecies of the Eld's deer are:

Red deer Species of mammal

The red deer is one of the largest deer species. The red deer inhabits most of Europe, the Caucasus Mountains region, Asia Minor, Iran, parts of western Asia, and central Asia. It also inhabits the Atlas Mountains region between Morocco and Tunisia in northwestern Africa, being the only species of deer to inhabit Africa. Red deer have been introduced to other areas, including Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Canada, Peru, Uruguay, Chile, and Argentina. In many parts of the world, the meat (venison) from red deer is used as a food source.

Sambar deer Species of deer

The sambar is a large deer native to the Indian subcontinent, South China, and Southeast Asia that is listed as a vulnerable species on the IUCN Red List since 2008. Populations have declined substantially due to severe hunting, insurgency, and industrial exploitation of habitat.

Water deer Species of mammals belonging to the deer, muntjac, roe deer, reindeer, and moose family of ruminants

The water deer is a small deer superficially more similar to a musk deer than a true deer. Native to China and Korea, there are two subspecies: the Chinese water deer and the Korean water deer. Despite certain anatomical peculiarities, including a pair of prominent tusks, and its lack of antlers, it is classified as a cervid. Yet, its unique anatomical characteristics have caused it to be classified in its own genus (Hydropotes) as well as its own subfamily (Hydropotinae). However, studies of mitochondrial control region and cytochrome b DNA sequences placed it near Capreolus within an Old World section of the subfamily Capreolinae. Its prominent tusks, similar to those of musk deer, have led to both subspecies being colloquially named vampire deer in English-speaking areas to which they have been imported. The species is listed as vulnerable by the IUCN. It was first described to the Western world by Robert Swinhoe in 1870.

Reevess muntjac

Reeves's muntjac, also known as the Chinese muntjac, is a muntjac species found widely in southeastern China and Taiwan. It has also been introduced in Belgium, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Japan. It takes its name from John Reeves, an employee of the British East India Company in the 19th century.

Javan rusa

The Javan rusa or Sunda sambar is a deer native to the islands of Indonesia and East Timor. Introduced populations exist in a wide variety of locations in the Southern Hemisphere.

Siberian roe deer

The Siberian roe deer or eastern roe deer is a species of roe deer found in northeastern Asia. In addition to Siberia and Mongolia, it is found in Kazakhstan, the Tian Shan Mountains of Kyrgyzstan, eastern Tibet, the Korean Peninsula, and northeastern China (Manchuria).

Thorolds deer Species of mammal

Thorold's deer is a threatened species of deer found in grassland, shrubland, and forest at high altitudes in the eastern Tibetan Plateau. It is also known as the white-lipped deer for the white patches around its muzzle.

Elk Large antlered species of deer from North America and east Asia

The elk or wapiti is one of the largest species within the deer family, Cervidae, and one of the largest terrestrial mammals in North America and Northeast Asia. This animal should not be confused with the still larger moose of North America, alternatively known as "elk" in British English and related names in other European languages, in reference to populations in Eurasia. Elk range in forest and forest-edge habitat, feeding on grasses, plants, leaves, and bark. Male elk have large antlers which are shed each year. Males also engage in ritualized mating behaviors during the rut, including posturing, antler wrestling (sparring), and bugling, a loud series of vocalizations that establishes dominance over other males and attracts females.

California mule deer

The California mule deer is a subspecies of mule deer whose range covers much of the state of California.

<i>Lucanus capreolus</i> Species of beetle

Lucanus capreolus, the reddish-brown stag beetle, is a beetle of the family Lucanidae. The specific name capreolus is derived from Latin, meaning "roe deer". The name refers to the resemblance of the antennae to deer antlers.


The taruca, or north Andean deer, is a species of deer native to South America.

Persian fallow deer

The Persian fallow deer is a rare deer native to the Middle East, today occurring only in Iran and Israel. It has been listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List since 2008. After a captive breeding program the population has rebounded from only a handful of deer in the 1960s to over a thousand individuals today. It has also successfully been reintroduced into the wild.

Dumbrava Sibiului Natural Park

The Dumbrava Sibiului Natural Park is a protected area situated in central Romania, in Sibiu County, in administrative territory of Sibiu city. Current King and Queen: Maxim & Sugar, the rightful glorious ruler of the Kingdom of Dumbrava


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Further reading