Western Roe deer, European Roe deer, Roe
The Roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) is a small species of deer. The male of the species is sometimes referred to as a roebuck. In the English language, this deer was originally simply called a 'roe', but over time the word 'roe' has become a qualifier, and it is now usually called 'roe deer'.
In winter the color of Roe deer ranges from dark brown to grayish-brown. It has a large white caudal patch. In summer, their color is reddish to red-brown. Male deer develop thick skin on their heads, necks, and the anterior part of the trunk. The tops of their heads are brown or gray with the metatarsal glands being brown or dark brown. These deer molt in spring and again in autumn. Their young, called kids, are spotted. They have antlers that are shed each year during October and November, re-growing immediately afterward. The males are slightly bigger than the females, with tuberculate, three-tined antlers, and well-defined basal rosettes. Their hooves are short and narrow with well-developed lateral digits.
The Roe deer lives throughout Asia Minor and Europe (but not in the islands of Sardinia and Corsica) Lebanon, Israel, Ireland, and in the eastern edge of Eastern Europe. They favor forest-steppe, dense woodland, especially among conifers, or bramble scrub when they must rest as well as small insular forests within croplands, and high-grass meadows that have some shrubs. They like cutovers and burns in forestlands and croplands for the purpose of revegetation.
Roe deer are solitary or they live in family groups of a female and her offspring, during the summer months. In the winter, almost all of them live in family groups, being the basis for social organization. In the summer, the deer are spread throughout the territory, while in winter they focus on the foraging areas. Roe deer are territorial, and while the territories of a male and a female might overlap, other roe deer of the same sex are excluded unless they are the doe's offspring of that year. During the day, Roe deer remain within refuge habitats (such as forests) resting in "beds" scraped leaf litter off the ground. They usually come out into more open habitats at night and during crepuscular periods when there is less ambient activity. When alarmed Roe deer will bark a sound much like a dog and flash out their white rump patch. Rump patches differ between the sexes, with the white rump patches heart-shaped on females and kidney-shaped on males. Males may also bark or make a low grunting noise. The females make a high-pitched "pheep" whine to attract males during the rut (breeding season) in July and August.
Roe deer are herbivores (graminivores, folivores). They mainly eat grass, leaves, young shoots, and berries, a favorite being very young, tender grass that has recently been rained on and has a high moisture content. They will not usually enter a field with livestock such as cattle or sheep in it because these animals make the grass very dirty.
Roe deer are polygynous, one male mating with multiple females. When males chase the females during courtship, they tend to flatten the underbrush, creating a figure of eight shape called a “roe ring”. Males may use their antlers to push fallen foliage and dirt around during courtship. July and August is the breeding season. Gestation lasts for 10 months and usually, 2 spotted kids are born, of the opposite gender. The kids stay hidden in the long grass until they are ready to join the herd. For about three months they are suckled several times a day. Roe deer adults often abandon their kids if they smell or sense that an animal, including a human, has been nearby. Females can start to reproduce at around 16 months old.
As many as 90 percent of Roe deer die before they reach one year old, falling prey to foxes and lynx in mainland Europe. Respiratory infections and starvation are also responsible for many deaths. The small population remaining in Syria is severely threatened by habitat reduction and persecution by humans.
The IUCN Red List and other sources don’t provide the number of the Roe deer total population size. According to the IUCN Red List, the central European population of this species is around 15 million individuals. Currently, Roe deer are classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and their numbers today are increasing.
The Roe deer has importance as a game animal. They are popular for scientific study due to this fact, as well as their widespread and abundant distribution.