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Species Spied: Roe deer

Overview

Species: Roe deer

Roe deer captured on NatureSpy's camera trapScientific Name: Capreolus capreolus

Family: Cervidae (deer)

Roe deer are native to Scotland but were reintroduced to England and Wales during the 19th century after they became extinct. Today they remain protected by the Deer Act 1991.

NatureSpy has captured some great videos and pictures of these large mammals on our camera traps, and even pictures of young kids.

Click on the tabs above to find out more and see NatureSpy photos and videos of this species.

Posts with roe deer...

Identification & behaviour

How to identify

A roe deer sticks its tongue out at our wildlife camera trap

A roe deer cheekily sticks its tongue out at one of NatureSpy's camera traps.

The best way to distinguish between deer species is by their rumps and tails. Roe deer have a white rump patch and no obvious tail, but to make things tricky this patch may darken and disappear during winter. Also, the roe deer is reddish brown during summer but can become greyish during the winter. You can compare the roe and fallow deer in this video.

Roe deer are smaller than the red deer; these are the only two native deer species in the UK.

Males (bucks) and females (does) can be distinguished most of the year as the male has small branched antlers, usually with three points, however these are shed in November. Watch a buck with velvety antlers here.

The female does not have antlers at any time of the year. Young roe deer (called 'kids') have spotted coats for the first six weeks of life to help with camouflage. Roe deer kids can be quite playful; watch it here.

Behaviours you may see

The 'rut' (breeding season) takes place between July and August when males fight, often violently and using their antlers, for the opportunity to mate with the females. The NatureSpy camera traps haven't captured this yet but we have found a male with new itchy antlers  and another rubbing his to make them all the stronger to fight with.

While breeding takes place during the summer, you will only see young in the following May and June as females have ‘delayed implantation’, meaning the egg only becomes fertilised in December or January. This is to avoid having young during the winter. No other member of the Cervidae family have this trait. Watch a mother protecting her kid by tucking it away here.

Camera trap tips

Where to find roe deer

Roe deer are found throughout Scotland and England (except Kent and the Midlands) but are quite rare in Wales.

They are elusive but actually fairly common in their preferred habitat, woodland, and are usually seen singly or in twos or threes.

Settings & timers

They are most active at dawn and dusk (crepuscular) but you may see them during the day or night. Therefore, cameras should be on at all times. They can be quite skittish and may even be suspicious of the presence of a camera trap. Some like to come up close and sniff them, while others prefer to keep their distance.

Following trails...

Roe deer footprints (spoor) are very similar to those of fallow deer and even goats and sheep. They are about 4cm long and 3cm wide. Droppings (scat) are also very similar across deer species, so putting your camera trap out and seeing what you capture is the best way to identify what is visiting.

Deer are surprisingly small so don't set your camera traps too high. For most UK species cameras can be placed between 30-60cm off the ground.

Photos

Roe deer camera trap photos


Videos

Roe deer camera trap videos

References and more information:

Roe deer – The Mammal Society