Roe Deer

Roe Deer in the Wood adjacent to the chalk grassland.
Roe Deer in the Wood adjacent to the chalk grassland.

Roe Deer (Capreolus capreolus)

This secretive and mostly solitary deer is common throughout Europe and was once widespread in England, Wales and southern Scotland.  Unfortunately they were hunted to extinction in the 18th century which lead to them being re-introduced to southern England in the 19th century.  Since then, and thanks to the close season which for roe is from 1st November until 31st March for bucks and from 1st April until 31st October for does, they have made a comeback and now occupy all of their previous range.  They may now number around 500,000.

Bucks begin to grow short erect antlers with a maximum of three points in the spring as the rut begins towards the middle of July and will last until the end of August.  Bucks are territorial from March until the end of the rut.

The Roe deer is the only hoofed animal with delayed implantation as the egg does not begin to develop in the doe’s uterus until early January.  Kids are born between the 15th May and the 15th June and twins are very common.  Their mother will always leave the kids in separate places to lie still whilst she is away eating.  The young possess dapple coats initially which helps with camouflage.

They will measure between 60-75cm at the shoulder and weigh between 10 – 25 kg.  The average lifespan is 7 years although 14 year old animals have been recorded.  They reddish brown in the summer and grey in the winter.  They have a black moustache with a white chin and appear tail-less with a white patch on their rump.

Their meat is highly prized on the continent where it is known as chevreuil.