Nature Notes

Click to follow
ROE DEER have a timetable all their own. Whereas other deer - red, fallow and sika - hold their rut in the autumn, roe are rutting now; yet because females have an unique biological system known as delayed implantation, their kids are born at the same time of year - June - as those of the other species. If a roe is impregnated now, her embryo will not start to develop until the autumn, and she will not give birth until next summer.

Compared with red deer, which roar, fallow bucks, which grunt, and sika stags, which whistle, roe bucks are quiet in their mating habits. They pursue their does unobtrusively, mostly at night or in the early morning; but they cause substantial damage on their rutting stands by "fraying" - rubbing their antlers on to the stems of young trees to deposit scent and mark their territories.

Females often give birth to twins, and for the first few days of life leave them lying in cover while they go off to feed. People tend to think that a kid curled up on its own has been orphaned, but this is hardly ever the case, and it is a great mistake to pick the animal up or even stroke it, as human scent may put the mother off and cause her to abandon it.