Roe deer can be seen throughout much
of England but are less widely distributed in parts of the Midlands. Contrary to
popular belief, this small deer is not a herd animal and one male will normally associate
with one female. They are territorial during late spring and summer. During
the breeding season (known as the rut) from mid-July through August the males (bucks) are
particularly defensive of their territory, however some females (does) have looser
territories that overlap more than one male's territory. Although mating occurs in
late summer, the fertilized eggs do not start to develop immediately. This
phenomenon, known as delayed implantation is unique amongst hoofed animals. Females
typically produce two young during May of the following year. The young will stay
with their mother for about 12 months. After this time, their father again becomes
territorial and will drive out any young bucks from his territory.
Roe deer appear greyish during winter, but change their
coats to become reddish brown during the summer. The males grow antlers which are
used as weapons in territorial disputes during the rut. Occasionally one or both of
the males will die as a result of these fights. The antlers are also used to brash
or scrape the bark from young trees. Along with their habit of eating the leading
shoots, deer brashing can be a significant problem in new or young tree plantations.
The roe buck in the picture above is in his grey winter
coat and his growing antlers are covered in a hairy skin known as velvet. As the
deer become territorial during April and May the velvet will die and fall off exposing the
bare antlers, ready for the male to fight his territorial disputes.