Roe deer

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Roe deer (Capreolus capreolus)


The roe deer is a medium-sized herbivorous mammal of the cloven-footed order. It is widespread in Bulgaria. It lives in the northern parts of Europe, Asia Minor and around the Caspian Sea.

Only the male specimens (called “deer”) have horns — short and straight. In winter, the males lose their horns, but they grow back in the spring for the new breeding season. As they start growing, the new antlers are covered with a layer of velvet-thin skin, which gradually disappears as skin circulation is lost. The deer can speed up the process by rubbing their antlers on trees to harden them for dueling during the breeding season. Roe deer are the only ones from the Deer family whose antlers grow even in winter. The body is reddish and the facial parts are gray. The color of the body varies in different seasons - golden-reddish in summer, and in winter it darkens to brown and even black with lighter belly parts and a white rump.


Physical features

The roe deer is quite small in size compared to other members of the Antelope family. Its body length reaches from 95 to 135 cm, the width at the forelimbs 65 – 75 cm, the height at the withers - 65 – 75 cm and its total weight is between 15 and 30 kg, sometimes up to 35 kg. The tail is short (2-3 cm) and hardly noticeable. An interesting fact about the roe deer is that it does not have a gall bladder. The first and second horns are unbranched, between 5 and 12 cm, while in adult roe deer they reach 20 to 28 cm, often ending in two or three, rarely four tips.


Activity and nutrition

The roe deer is active mainly at dusk. When its habitats are quiet, undisturbed by people, it also eats during the day. It is a very fast and graceful animal. It lives in high places or mountains, but sometimes dares to enter grasslands and sparse forests. It eats mainly grass, small fruit, leaves and bines. The main food in winter is the beechnut, which the roe deer dig up from the fallen leaves and under the snow, typically digging with their front legs. Since burrowing is too noisy, one of the roes is always watching around for predators and humans. When there are not beechnuts and in most of the lands in Bulgaria is like this, ivy and blackberry, which have evergreen leaves, predominate in the roe deer’s food. It prefers mostly fresh grass, avoiding pastures where domestic animals pollute the grass. In general, the roe deer is very picky about its diet.



Roe deer are polygamous. The males fight each other for territory in the early summer and mate in the early autumn. During the courtship, the roe, chasing the doe, often tramples the bushes, leaving figures called doe rings. The males may also clean up foliage leaves with horns - a way to attract females. The roe deer’s mating season is in July - August. The does usually give birth to two spotted fawns with different gender. They are hidden in the tall grass from predators until they are ready to join the rest of the herd. They suckle from their mother several times a day for 3 months. The adults can often abandon their young if they smell a predator or human nearby.