Roe deer have a bright, reddish brown coat and white rump, though their coat becomes a duller grey colour in the winter months. They have black eyes and noses, white chins and large ears. Newborn deer, or kids, are brown with white spots that fade as they age. Roe deer do not have tails, though females (or does) have a tuft of hair on their back ends. Males (or bucks) grow small velvet-covered antlers with up to three points in November, and the velvet is moulted from these in the spring. They shed their antlers entirely in October before growing new ones.
Roe deer are herbivores and may be seen browsing or grazing in and around woodland areas. They prefer areas with a variety of plant species, though bramble seems to be a favourite. Roe deer occupy territory individually or in small family groups. Buck’s territories are generally larger than doe’s, and doe’s territories overlap with each other more often.
Their breeding period, known as the rut, takes place from mid-July to mid-August. Before the breeding season, bucks fight each other over does, which can result in serious injury or even death. The winning buck will then have to pursue his chosen doe until she is ready to mate. Birthing occurs during May and June, when does usually birth one to three kids each year. For the first two months of their lives, kids are unable to move and lie hidden in the grass.
- Height: 60-70 cm at the shoulder
- Weight: 10-25 kg
- Average life span: Up to 20 years
Protected in Scotland by the Deer (Scotland) Act 1996 and Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981
Roe deer are widespread throughout the country, present on the mainland as well as the Isles of Arran, Bute, Islay, Seil and Skye.
When to see
- When startled, roe deer make a dog-like barking sound.
- Roe deer can reach up to 37 miles per hour when they run.
- Roe deer faced extinction in the 18th century as a result of over-hunting and deforestation. Reintroductions lead to the recovery of the species in the 19th and 20th centuries.