Roe deer have a body size a little smaller than a labrador dog, but with long graceful legs. Males are called bucks and have short straight antlers. These horns drop off in the winter and are grown again by the end of the spring, ready for the August rut, or breeding season. Bucks are solitary, except during the rut, when they pair up with a female roe deer called a doe and small groups of three or four roe deer may be seen.
Although the breeding season, or rut, is in August, roe deer do not give birth until early summer. They are the only deer species to have a delayed implantation of their embryos which is thought to have evolved to avoid conflict for breeding territory with the larger red deer.
The doe gives birth to twin fawns in May or June keeping them apart for their first week and visiting each twin in turn to feed them. At this time fawns lie still relying on their spotted camouflage. They remain with their mother through the winter. The doe becomes solitary after the winter.
Roe deer can be seen all year round. Active mostly at night, roe deer may be seen in the early morning or evening. Look out for stripped areas of bark on small shrubs and trees, made by the buck as he rubs the plant with his antlers and leaves his scent behind.
Roe deer are found throughout Scotland. They live in the largest range of habitats of any deer in Scotland, from cities, such as Aberdeen to moorland edges in the Highlands. They are very selective feeders and can be seen feeding in sheltered shrubby areas and will browse on leaves, fruit and fungi.
If you see a fawn in the grass whilst out on the hill, don’t touch it or disturb it. Its mother is likely to be nearby and if your scent on the animal may cause it to be abandoned.
Red deer are Scotland’s largest surviving native wild land mammal. They have a body size a little smaller than a domestic donkey. Males are called stags and have antlers up to a metre long. These branch-like horns drop off in the spring and are grown...