roe deer, small, short-horned deer, Capreolus capreolus, of Britain and Europe and as far east as China and Siberia. Its coat is golden red in summer, darkening to brown or even black in winter, with lighter undersides and a white rump patch. It stands from 26 to 30 in. (66–76.2 cm) at the shoulder and has small three-pronged horns. Roe deer are widely distributed in woods near fields and wooded valleys. They are nocturnal animals, traveling alone or in families and browsing on grass, leaves, and young shoots. The polygamous males fight over territory in early summer and rut in early fall. Females give birth the following June, usually to two spotted kids of opposite sexes. Roe deer often leave behind in the forest trampled areas in the shape of a figure-eight. Called roe rings, they are made during courtship rituals when the male chases the female, and also by the young at play. Roe deer are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Artiodactyla, family Cervidae.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.