Roe deer

Capreolus capreolus

Roe deer | APAM Archive

Scientific name: Capreolus capreolus
Order: Artiodactyls
Super order:Ungulates
Common name: roe deer


Distribution and habitat

Almost continuous distribution in Central and Eastern Europe from the Iberian Peninsula to the Caspian Sea coast.


Description

The smallest ungulate in the park. The difference between the sexes is fairly evident especially when the males have their antlers, which they shed in autumn and grow back in winter-spring, first the mature animals and then the young.
Dimensions: the roe deer is 90-130 cm long, measures 55-77 cm at the shoulder and weighs between 10 and 27 kg.


Feeding

It feeds mainly on woody shoots (around 30% of its diet) and semi-woody vegetables such as ivy, bramble, raspberry, elderberry, dog rose (up to 60% of its diet in winter) but it will also eat grasses and wild fruits. The roe deer can adapt to a variety of foods, even if the small size of the stomach obliges it to look for food with a high-energy content, like all grazers.


Reproduction

The reproduction period is from mid-July to mid-August. Females gives birth in May-June, usually one or two young.


Longevity

The maximum age recorded is 13 years in males and 16 years in females, although in the wild it is rare to find animals older than 8-9 years.


Roe deer in the Alps

In the north-western alps roe deer were hunted to extinction in the 1920s. The roe deer found in the Park today are the result of reintroduction for hunting carried out over the last 30 years.


Did you know that ...?

After fertilisation, embryo development stops until December (diapause), resuming in January and gestation ends in May, when maximum food availability reduces the energetic impact of pregnancy and lactation.


Stories, myths and legends

The region between the great rivers that flow into the upper Adriatic Sea was once covered by immense forests of hornbeam and oak. Bushes of red rowan, hawthorn and cornel were the undergrowth of centuries-old elms and tall ash trees: it was the undisputed kingdom of the roe deer, an animal dear to Apollo in Greek mythology. The roe deer also appears in Welsh myths: the white roe deer is the symbol of the soul's journey to death.