NATURE IN CONTROL
Information about the Roe Deer
The Pixie of the Wood
The attractive roe deer is native to the UK and widespread across woodland, farmland, grassland and heathland habitats. Look for its distinctive pale rump and short antlers.
Our most common native deer, the roe deer tends to be solitary in summer, but forms small, loose groups in winter. The males have relatively short antlers, typically with three points. They begin to grow their antlers in November, shedding the velvet from them in the spring. By summer, they are ready for the rutting season. After mating, they shed their antlers in October and begin to grow a new set. Roe deer live in areas of mixed countryside that includes woodland, farmland, grassland and heathland. They eat buds and leaves from trees and shrubs, as well as ferns, grasses and heathers.
How to identify
A slender, medium-sized deer, the roe deer has short antlers and no tail. It is mostly brown in colour, turning reddish in the summer and darker grey in the winter. It has a pale buff patch around its rump.
Widespread in Scotland and England. Scarce in Wales, the Midlands and southern England. Absent from Northern Ireland.
Many roe deer have been spotted in both China and Siberia.
They tend to stick to the wooded areas where they can find both food and shelter. They are the most active at twilight so if you want to observe them that is when you should be in position. However, they are known to end up on the grasslands when they need to widen their search for food.
Roe deer will immediately start to grow new antlers the second that the old ones fall off. They are known to make sounds similar to those of dogs when they feel they are in danger. Those sounds give warning to others and they will quickly run to find shelter. They tend to live alone though with the exception of when they are feeding in similar areas or looking for a mate
The Roe Deer consumes a variety of different food with grass being one of their favorites. They also consume leaves and shoots from the trees. During certain seasons they look forward to eating the fruit that grows on certain trees around their environment.
What is interesting about their love for grass is that they are very particular about it. They won’t consume grass that other types of animals including cows, sheep, and others have been on. They find it to be unclean and they will walk away from it even if they are struggling to find enough food at that point in time. When they do consume grass they prefer it to be clean and to have high amounts of moisture in it.
When the males are looking for mates they will bark like dogs. They have also been known to whine like coyotes. If you aren’t familiar with the sounds from the Roe Deer you may assume there are some other types of animals in that location than there really is.
The males will battle each other with their horns in an effort to be able to win the attentions of the females. When they do find a female they will often make circles around here that can severely damage the ground under them. These areas are typically referred to as Roe Rings.
The females are able to delay the connection for the embryo and the uterus which allows her to give birth at the time of year that is going to offer them the best chance of successfully surviving. There are almost always two fawns born each time. The average life span in the wild for a Roe Deer is 15 years. The age of maturity is about 1 ½ years.
Did you know?
A male roe deer is called a 'buck' and the female is a 'doe'. Mating occurs in July and August, but females delay implantation of the fertilised egg until January of the following year, so that the young are not born during the harsh winter months. Two or three, white-spotted kids are born in May or June.
Shoulder height: 60-75cm
Average lifespan: 7 years
Common. Protected in the UK under the Deer Act 1991.
When to see
January to December
England and Wales:
April 1-Oct 31 (bucks)
Nov 1-Mar 31 (does)
April 1-Oct 20 (bucks)
Oct 21-Mar 31 (does)
Roe Deer and Human interaction
Humans need to be very careful around the Roe Deer areas when there are young. The mothers will come back to them to feed them, but if they pick up the scent of humans or other animals they will abandon their offspring. Then these young fawns will surely die without the milk of their mother to nourish them.