Living Organisms / Animalia / Craniata / Mammalia / Artiodactyla / Cervidae / Capreolus / Species
Capreolus capreolus - Western roe deer (Click photographs/illustrations: full picture & further details)
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General and References

Alternative Names (Synonyms)

  • Roe deer
  • Chevreuil (French)
  • Cheuvreuil européen (French)
  • Reh (German)

Names for new-borns / juveniles

  • Fawn
  • Kid
Names for males Buck
Names for females Doe

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General Appearance

  • Small-medium sized deer, relatively short body and long legs, no obvious tail.
  • Black nose and white chin distinctive
  • Characteristic flaring of rump patch (white) and "bounding" when disturbed.


Similar Species

Sexual Dimorphism Males have antlers ((B142, B144).

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Species Author

Debra Bourne

Major References

Husbandry references:

(UK Contacts)

(Further Reading)
Click image for full contents list of ELECTRONIC LIBRARY

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TAXA Group (where information has been collated for an entire group on a modular basis)

Parent Group

  • Deer (Cervidae)

Specific Needs Group referenced in Management Techniques

  • Deer (Cervidae)

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Husbandry Information


Individual Techniques linked in Wildpro

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Appearance / Morphology

Measurement & Weight

Length Head-body length: 3.34.6ft / 100-140cm (B144)
Height Shoulder height: 2-3ft/60-90cm (B144); 60-70cm (B142); 66cm (B158.A8.w4)
Adult weight General 33-110 lbs./15-50kg (B144)
Male 18.0-28.5kg, mean 23.9kg (B142); 30kg (B158.A8.w4)
Female 18.0-28.0kg, mean 22.3kg (B142)
New-born weight 1.1-3.3 lbs. / 500-1500g (B144); 2kg (B158.A1.w3)
Growth rate --

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  • Antlers short, usually less than 30cm long, approximately vertical, forming lyre shape, almost round in cross section. Commonly three tines on each antler in adults.
  • Pedicles by about 3-4 months old, first antlers (button or simple spike) at 8-9 months. Full antlers usually by two years old.
  • Antlers cast late October to January, fully formed by March. 
  • Adults shed velvet in April, young and poor condition animals shed later.
  • Rarely, antlers present in females.
  • (B142, B158.A8.w4, D30)

Skull: Total length mean 196mm (B142)

Nose: Muzzle short. Nose black with white rim (B142, D30).

Ears: Large, prominent, rounded (B142).

Dentition (Teeth)
  • Deciduous: I0/3, C0/1, P3/3, M0/0
  • Permanent: I 0/3, C0/1, P3/3, M3/3.
  • Permanent teeth erupt at about 8-15 months (B142)
  • Third deciduous premolar tricuspid; third permanent premolar bicuspid (B142)
Eyes Rounded. Pupils slanted (B142)

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Legs and Tracks

  • Cloven-hoofed. 
  • Dew claws present .


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  • Length: 0.4-0.8in./1-2cm (B144); 5cm (B158.A8.w4).
  • Not visible (B142, D30).

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Coat / Pelage

Adult Female Summer: 
  • Dorsal reddish brown. Rump patch cream to buff
  • Ventral paler. 
  • Head: black nose often has white rim above, sometimes extending onto muzzle. White chin. Characteristic "moustache stripe"


  • Pale/olive grey, grey-brown or blackish. Rump patch white, inverted heart shape, with "tush" of anal hair. 
  • Throat may have one or two paler areas.

(B142, B158.A8.w4, D30)

Variations (If present) Male: winter rump patch cream, kidney-shape, no hair "tush" (B142)
  • Spring moult: mid March to early June. 
  • Autumn moult: September to October


New-born / Juvenile
  • Reddish-brown, flecked black.
  • Row of white spots either side of spine.
  • Flanks/side bear white spots.
  • About six weeks, spots fade, and have disappeared by first moult.


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Neonate (New-born) Characteristics

Precocial. Suckle within few hours of birth (B142). 

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Detailed Anatomy Notes
(Summary information provided for pertinent species-specific data cross-referenced in Wildpro)

Reproductive: udder has four teats (B142)

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Life Stages / Natural Diet / Physiology

Reproductive Stages

Breeding Season
  • Rut mid-July to end of August (B142); late July/August (B158.A1.w3)
Oestrus / Ovulation
  • Probably monoestrus.
  • Induced ovulation. 

(B142, B158.A1.w3)

Gestation / Pregnancy
  • 273-294 days, including 150 days delayed implantation of blastocyst
  • Implantation delayed to late December/January

(B142, B144, B158.A1.w3)

Parturition / Birth Mid-May to mid-June (B142); late April to June (B158.A1.w3)
Neonatal development
  • Suckle within hours of birth.
  • Initially left alone except when suckling.
  • Twins usually left separately.
  • Follow mother from about 6-8 weeks old.
  • Feeding on vegetation to some extent by 2-4 months


Litter size
  • 1-4, usually 2-3 (B144).
  • Twins common, triplets where habitat good quality (B142)
  • 1-4, usually 2 (B158.A1.w3)
Time between Litters / Litters per year
  • One litter per year (B142).
Lactation / Milk Production
  • About three months (B144)
  • Continues into winter (B142)
Sexual Maturity
  • About one year (B144),
  • Males at 14 months. (B142)
  • Females at 14 months; occasionally as kids (23 months old) (B142)
  • 14 months (B158.A1.w3)
  • Up to 15 years (B144),
  • Mainly less than 8 years, but wild to 14 years recorded (B142).
  • High mortality of kids and yearlings (B142)

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Natural Diet

  • Leaves, buds and shoots of deciduous trees and shrubs, plus forbs; fruits and seeds
  • Brambles all year.
  • Deciduous browse and forbs in summer.
  • Heather, blaeberry, other woody browse in winter
  • Grass in small quantities, more in spring.

(B142, B144)

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Detailed Physiology Notes
(Summary information provided for pertinent species-specific data cross-referenced in Wildpro)

Temperature --
Pulse --
Respiration --
Faeces --
Haematology / Biochemistry --
Chromosomes 2n = 70; FNa = 68 (B142)
Other Antlers cast October-December, antlers cleaned March-May (B158.A1.w3).

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Feeding Behaviour

  • Feed selectively.
  • Mainly browser, also graze.

(B142, B143)

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Parental Behaviour

Mother and juvenile remain together until April-May, before birth of next kid (B142).

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Social Behaviour / Territoriality

  • Solitary or in small groups - mixed or single sex.
  • May see groups e.g. to 8 or 12 individuals, sometimes to 60, in agricultural fields (B142).
  • Large groups seen in fields in winter (B142)
  • May reach >25 individuals per square kilometre where food and cover abundant in young plantations (stands 5-15 years old) B142
  • Males territorial April to August, usually exclusive.
  • Territory and range size vary with habitat
  • Male range size usually slightly greater than female range size.
  • Winter range of males may be same as summer territory.
  • Non-territorial males have larger ranges overlapping with those of several territorial males.
  • Territory size 10-200 acres / 4-80 hectares (B144); maximum territory about 50-60 hectares (B142)..
  • Generally may maintain for up to three years; rarely longer.
  • Often tolerate and aggregate while feeding outside territories.
  • Females: maintain range from on year to next, but not defended.
  • Overlap with one another and with those of one or more males.
  • Young females (second and third year) may share range of mother or emigrate.
  • Females territorial at parturition, and range smaller at this time.

(B142, B143, B144)

Inter-specific --

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Sexual Behaviour

Males very aggressive in rut; fight over territories (B142)

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Predation in Wild

  • Wolf, lynx.
  • Fox and golden eagle may take kids.

(B142, B143, B144)

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Activity Patterns

  • Mainly walk.
  • Bounding gait when disturbed.
  • Can swim.


  • Active day and night.
  • Longest feeding bouts dawn and dusk.
  • More likely to be in open at night than in day.


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Habitat and Range

General Habitat Type

  • Open deciduous, coniferous or mixed woodland.
  • Open moorland in Scotland
  • Agricultural land if sufficient cover available.

(B142, B143, B144)

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Nests / Burrows / Shelters


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Distribution and Movement (Migration etc.)

  • Palearctic: Spain to Pacific coast, Norway to Italy and Caucasus, Asia Minor to northern Syria, northern Iraq, Iran. Siberia to 65°N, Alta, Khazkistan, northern Mongolia, China, Korea (B143)
  • Western Europe to Western Siberia, with population east of this considered a separate species Capreolus pygargus (B51, B141)
  • Europe: Widespread, but absent from Ireland, Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily (B143)
  • Britain: Scotland, northern England, west Kent to Cornwall and spreading north in Gloucestershire. Also Essex, Norfolk, Suffolk and spreading into midlands. Recently in Wales. Not present Isle of Wight. Not present most Scottish Islands, but present on Bute, Islay, Seil, Skye (B142)
Occasional and Accidental --

North America (B143)

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Intraspecific variation

  • Capreolus capreolus capreolus - European roe deer (B143)
  • Capreolus capreolus pygargus - Siberian roe deer (B143); considered separate species Capreolus pygargus, Eastern roe deer (B51, B141)
  • Capreolus capreolus thotti - British roe deer. Not generally recognised (supposedly darker colouration) (B142)
  • Capreolus capreolus garganta - Spain (B143)
  • Four subspecies in Asia (B143)

(B51, B141, B142, B143)

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Conservation Status

Wild Population -
  • Common (B144).

  • In Britain: native in Scotland and reintroduced into England. Pre-breeding population estimate of about 500,000, with 150,000 in England, 350,000 in Scotland, about 50 in Wales. Population estimate of this widely-distributed species was based on a limited amount of data and considered likely to be inaccurate by up to 50% in either direction (B221).

General Legislation
CITES listing --
Red-data book listing --
Threats --
Captive Populations  

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