Roe Deer – Capreolus capreolus


Roe deer are one of only two native species of deer in Britain and the most widespread today. They are rare in Wales and absent from eastern Kent and parts of the Midlands, but in southern England they are increasing in number.

They are active day and night, browsing in mostly woodland areas but may also be spotted in larger gardens in rural or suburban areas. Roe deer are fiercely territorial and the males, or bucks, will aggressively defend their territory, especially through the summer.

Threats in the wild are few, as their natural predators, the wolf and the lynx, are now extinct in Britain. Young fawns may fall prey to foxes or eagles, but most casualties are from traffic or farm machinery. Many young fawns will not survive the cold of their first winter, but those that do may live up to ten years in the wild.

Origin: Native, though reintroduced in England after extinction in early 17th century from Scottish and European populations.
Size: Britain’s smallest indigenous deer. Body length up to 140 cm. Smaller than fallow deer but larger and longer legged than muntjac.
Description: Red-brown coat and buff rump in summer. Grey-brown with white rump in winter. Young are darker with pale spots for first two months. Males have short antlers with at most three points.
Habitat: Woodland and woodland fringe, also moorland with deep heather. Sometimes in farmland or large gardens. Solitary and territorial, but may gather in small groups during winter.
Young: Mating is in July and August with implantation delayed until December (the only deer species to do this). A single litter of 1 – 3 fawns is born in May or June.
Diet: Browsers of trees and shrubs; also acorns, fungi, ferns and cereals.
Population: Pre-breeding season estimated to be 500,000.