Facts on Friday | Capreolus capreolus

Roe Deer

Roe Deer (Capreolus capreolus), became extinct in most of England during the 18th century, however, during the 19th century they were reintroduced.


Up until the 1960's they were treated as vermin due to the damage they cause to the forestry industry.

Roe Deer are found throughout Europe, but they are absent from Ireland, much of Portugal, Greece and large parts of England and Wales. They also inhabit Asia.

Sightings of Roe deer have become more common in back gardens in outer suburbs. 

Roe Deer are quite small with a body length of  around 95 – 135 centimetres, a shoulder height of 65 – 75 centimetres and weigh in around15 – 30 kilograms.

Roe Deer have rather short, erect antlers and a reddish body with a grey face.

It's hide shines a golden red in summer, darkening to brown and sometimes even black in winter, with lighter undersides and a white rump patch.

A Roe Deers tail is very short, 2 – 3 centimetres and barely visible.

Only Bucks have antlers, which are lost during winter and re-grow in time for the mating season.

When the Bucks antlers begin to regrow, they are covered in a thin layer of velvet-like fur which disappears later, after the hairs blood supply is lost.

roebucksBucks 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.

Roe Deer are the only type of deer that can regrow their antlers during winter.

When alarmed, a Roe deer will bark a sound much like a dog and flash out its white rump patch.

Rump patches differ between male and female, with the white rump patches heart-shaped on females and kidney-shaped on males.

Bucks ‘bark’ and make a low grunting noise or make a high pitched wolf-like whine when attracting mates during the breeding season, often luring multiple female Roe deer into their territory.

Both Bucks and Does are solitary and are highly territorial, with clearly defined boundaries.

Both male and female Roe deer scent mark. These scents give information about the sex, age and dominance of the individual.

During courtship, when the Bucks chase the Does, they often flatten the underbrush leaving behind areas of the forest in the shape of a figure eight called ‘roe rings’.

Roebucks enter rutting during the July and August breeding season.

Does typically have only one breeding season a year, in spring and after delayed implantation, usually give birth the following June, after a 10 month gestation period.

Does typically give birth to two spotted kids of opposite sexes. The kids remain hidden in long grass from predators until they are ready to join the rest of the herd. 

Calling Roebucks during the rut is some of the most exciting hunting available to rifle shooters. 

“Summer Roebucks during the rut are up there with some of the best. It can be the most exciting time in the woods, but also the most frustrating and disappointing, and it can never really be relied on.” – Owen Beardsmore, Cervus UK.