Roe Deer In Spring

If you're quiet, you might be lucky enough to see roe deer on Bennachie and in the countryside. The best times to see them are dawn and dusk, look out for their white rumps flashing as they bound through the trees.

The roe deer rut, or mating season, takes place in the summer, at the end of July/beginning of August. The males (bucks) fight each other for access to the females (does), locking antlers and pushing, twisting and turning, sometimes injuring each other. Believe it or not, the doe’s pregnancy will last 10 months, and she won’t have her babies (kids or fawns) till around mid-May or early June the following year.

Like badgers, roe deer have delayed implantation. That means the tiny embryo will stay in her womb only growing very very slowly till around the end of December/early January, when it starts to grow normally for the next 5 months.

This works really well for the doe, because it means she will be in her best condition in the summer, with lots of food around during the rut. She can gain weight to see her through the winter months. By the time her kids are born in late May, spring is well under way with better weather and lots of vegetation around, both to eat and for the kids to hide away in.

The kids are born with a spotted or dappled coat to help them hide from predators. Usually twins are born, though sometimes the doe might have triplets. The mum leaves them hidden in long grass, where they lie quietly, visiting them briefly so they can suckle for the first several weeks. If she has had twins, she will leave them separately.

Young roe deer can make a high pitched whistling sound to attract their mothers if they become lost.

The doe will wean the kids when they are 4 months old, and although they may continue to suckle, they are not now dependent on her milk.

The kids usually start with their mum, but just a few weeks before giving birth, she will chase the previous year’s kids out. The females tend to stay closer to their mum’s range than the males.

Threats to roe deer kids include foxes, but sadly many die on roads or are injured by farm equipment. If they survive their first winter, roe deer usually live for around 10 years in the wild.

Jock o' Bennachie

Jock Says: If you come across a deer fawn, don’t disturb it, stay well back and don’t let it know you are near. Keep your dog under control and away from it. Don’t touch it, as your scent will be left on it, and may stop the mum returning. Remember the mum will have left it safely hidden and will come back to feed it. It won’t be abandoned!

The only time to touch a deer fawn is if the mum is lying dead nearby or the fawn is injured. For more information read BDS - Abandoned Young information.

To find out more about roe deer have a look at:

Roe Deer (Credit Byran Morrison)
Roe Deer (Credit Byran Morrison)
Roe Deer (Credit Katy Rewston)
Roe Deer (Credit Katy Rewston)

This is part of the Animals In Spring information.