Capreolus pygarguseastern roe deer

Geographic Range

Siberian roe deer (Capreolus pygargus) are native to the Paleartic region. They have a wide range that spans across much of northern Asia, including regions of central and northern Kazakhstan (not including the Aral Sea) and Mongolia. Their range in Mongolia includes the Navchvandan, Hangai, Darkhad in Hovsgol, and Ikh Hyangan mountain ranges, as well as the north-eastern portion of the Mongol Altai Mountain Range. The geographic range of Siberian roe deer extends along the southern border of Russia, including far western and eastern Ukraine. Their range also extends into central China, intersecting the western half of the Yang Tze River and the eastern Tibetan region. An isolated population has been reported along the northern slopes of the Russian Caucasus Mountains. Disjunct populations also occur on Jeju Island, in the Republic of Korea. (Adhikari, et al., 2016; Argunov, 2020; Argunov and Safronov, 2012; Danilkin, 1995; Jiang, et al., 2008; Lee and Jeon, 2020; Lovari, et al., 2016)


Siberian roe deer inhabit temperate forests, often near revegetating burns and forest clearings. They typically live at high elevations, as much as 3,300 m above sea level. They can tolerate temperatures as low as -60 °C, and may live in areas with snow as deep as 50 cm. The highest densities of Siberian roe deer occur in grasslands, tallgrass meadows, and floodplains, where food is abundant. In some cases, populations reach densities up to 12 individuals per 100 ha. (Danilkin, 1995; Jiang, et al., 2008; Lovari, et al., 2016; Nowak, 1999)

  • Range elevation
    0 to 3300 m
    0.00 to 10826.77 ft

Physical Description

Siberian roe deer females reach body lengths of 126.7 to 144.4 cm, whereas males reach body lengths of 128.1 to 143.8 cm. Adults of both sexes have shoulder heights of 82 to 94 cm and tail lengths of 2 to 4 cm. Siberian roe deer have hind legs that are longer than their forelegs. Their dental formula is: 0033/3133.

Siberian roe deer males have slightly higher body mass than females, on average, with male body mass ranging from 34.9 to 48.6 kg and female body mass ranging from 32.0 to 46.9 kg. However, body mass also varies between populations based on geographic location. For instance, males in parts of Russia have higher body masses compared to males from populations in China. In addition to slight sexual dimorphism with regards to size, males also have antlers, which slant backwards and upwards. Antlers typically have three tines and multiple bumps, called tubercles. The distance between the two antlers is consistently less than 1.5 times their width. Total antler length ranges from 28 to 33 cm.

Siberian roe deer vary in color and antler size depending on the season. During winter, their pelage is mainly taupe-colored, with undertones of creamy white on their ventral sides. In summer, their taupe coloration changes to a more vibrant reddish-orange color, although their ventral sides remain cream-colored. These seasonal changes apply to Siberian roe deer regardless of their sex or age. However, juveniles differ from adults in that their coats are spotted with lighter coloration throughout. Around June, adult female Siberian roe deer typically give birth to two fawns weighing 1.8 to 2.2 kg each. However, they have been recorded to give birth to as few as one fawn and as many as three fawns.

Siberian roe deer were historically considered a subspecies of western roe deer, (Capreolus capreolus), but research in 1987 and 1991 identified characteristics that differentiate the two species. For instance, Siberian roe deer are noticeably larger than western roe deer. Furthermore, Siberian roe deer males have antler pedicles that are more widely spaced compared to western roe deer. Finally, Siberian roe deer have reddish summer pelage, whereas western roe deer have gray-brown summer pelage. (Danilkin, 1995; GBIF, 2022; Nowak, 1999)

  • Range mass
    32.0 to 65 kg
    70.48 to 143.17 lb
  • Range length
    126.7 to 144.4 cm
    49.88 to 56.85 in


Siberian roe deer have a mating season that lasts from the middle of July until the middle of September, with the rut concentrated in August and September. Female Siberian roe deer are seasonally polyestrous and are known to have one long mating period each year. Siberian roe deer exhibit a polygynous mating, with one dominant male mating with multiple females. Mating interactions involve males chasing females in circles. During the mating season, males actively defend territories, with higher quality territories attracting larger groups of females. (Adhikari, et al., 2016; Argunov and Safronov, 2012; Danilkin, 1995; GBIF, 2022; Nowak, 1999)

Siberian roe deer breed once yearly from mid-July until mid-September. Females experience an embryonic diapause that lasts about 4 months; embryos are not implanted and do not begin development until the beginning of January. Following implantation, gestation lasts about 5.5 months. Fawning takes place during the spring, from May to the beginning of July. Females may birth 1 to 3 offspring at a time, but twins are most common. Birth weights for Siberian roe deer range from 1.8 to 2.2 kg.

After parturition, female Siberian roe deer relocate to a new site until their young are weaned, which takes 3 to 5 months. However, fawns usually stay with their mothers for 2 to 4 weeks after weaning. Female Siberian roe deer reach sexual maturity before they are 1 year old, whereas males reach sexual maturity around 2 years old. Once male Siberian roe deer reach adulthood, they disperse to find mates and territory of their own. (Argunov and Safronov, 2012; Danilkin, 1995; GBIF, 2022; Nowak, 1999)

  • Breeding interval
    Siberian roe deer breed once yearly
  • Breeding season
    Breeding season lasts from mid-July to mid-September
  • Range number of offspring
    1 to 3
  • Average gestation period
    5.5 months
  • Range weaning age
    3 to 5 months
  • Average time to independence
    11 months
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    1 years
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    2 to 3 years

Female Siberian roe deer relocate to new areas while they are nursing their young. Females provide milk and protect their offspring for around 3 to 5 months old, until young are fully weaned and independent. Males provide no further parental investment beyond the act of mating. (GBIF, 2022)

  • Parental Investment
  • female parental care
  • pre-fertilization
    • provisioning
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female


Siberian roe deer in the wild live 10 to 12 years, on average. The longest recorded lifespan of a wild Siberian roe deer is 17 years. The average lifespan of Siberian roe deer in captivity is unknown, although 11 individuals were reported to live up to 7 years in the London Zoo. (Danilkin, 1995; Nowak, 1999; Weigl, 2005)

  • Range lifespan
    Status: wild
    17 (high) years
  • Typical lifespan
    Status: wild
    10 to 12 years
  • Typical lifespan
    Status: captivity
    7 (low) years


Siberian roe deer are crepuscular and spend much of their active time browsing vegetation. They average seven bouts of feeding per day, alternating with rest periods. They primarily browse on leaves and stems of herbs or woody plants, although in winter months they consume woody branches, as well as mosses and lichens, when available. Siberian roe deer live in social groups typically lead by a dominant male.

Siberian roe deer are territorial only during the breeding season. During this time, males go into rut, which is characterized by increased aggression and territoriality. Males mark their territories by leaving visual marks on objects, such as trees, using their antlers. They also leave olfactory cues by depositing secretions from glands on their heads, or from a mixture of their urine and oils from tarsal glands on their rear legs. Siberian roe deer males begin marking territories in spring and continue to do so until fall, but marking activities occur most frequently during the rut, between August and September.

Siberian roe deer fawns interact with each other in a playful manner, but also observe and learn from the behavior of their mothers. At around 2.5 to 3 months old, fawns closely mimic adult behavior. Females terminate all social interactions with their previous offspring about 2 to 4 weeks before giving birth to new fawns. This behavior protects females and their newborns from negative interactions with other Siberian roe deer.

Siberian roe deer use vocalizations and non-vocal signals to communicate with members of their group. Vocal call types include squeaking, barking, whining, screaming, rasping. These signals are used as warning calls, alarm calls, or mating calls.

Siberian roe deer migrate seasonally to avoid unsuitable winter weather, although they can tolerate temperatures between -60 and °40 C. During migration, Siberian roe deer can move up to 500 km, although more typically they move 100 to 300 km. Migration usually takes place in September and October, and it can take around 40 days to complete migration. Departures from summer feeding grounds typically align with early frosts. Siberian roe deer return to their summer ranges in March or April. Throughout most of the year, Siberian roe deer live in small family groups, led by related females or by a dominant male. However, Siberian roe deer can be found in much larger groups (up to 500 individuals) during migration. (Adhikari, et al., 2016; Argunov and Safronov, 2012; Danilkin, 1995; GBIF, 2022; Nowak, 1999; Stepanova and Argunov, 2014; Wang, et al., 2019)

  • Range territory size
    1 to 15 km^2

Home Range

Siberian roe deer have different home range sizes depending on sex. Males have an average home range size of 168 ha, whereas females have larger home ranges, at an average of 219 ha. However, home range size also varies greatly depending on geographic region and the availability of important resources (e.g., food, shelter).Home range sizes may be as low as 100 ha in good conditions and up to 1,500 ha when resources are scarce.

During spring, male roe deer mark territories by scratching objects with their antlers or marking objects with urine and other chemicals. Their territories serve as breeding sites, which can be as large as 170 ha. In addition to marking the boundaries of their home ranges and territories, Siberian roe deer males also actively defend these areas from intruding males. (Argunov and Safronov, 2012; Doss, et al., 1974; Gashev, 2013; GBIF, 2022; Lovari, et al., 2016; Nowak, 1999; Wang, et al., 2019)

Communication and Perception

Siberian roe deer communicate and perceive their environment using acoustic, tactile, visual, and chemical cues. They communicate vocally using various calls, such as barking, whining, whistling, panting, and screaming. Both sexes use these call types for various purposes except for whining, which is performed exclusively by reproductively active females. Males often bark during breeding season as a territorial display to deter other males or potential predators. Fawns do not vocalize beyond squeaking, which they use as a call to their mothers.

Siberian roe deer communicate using olfactory cues, many of which are specific to individuals, for a number of purposes. The chemicals that Siberian roe deer release in their urine, feces, and saliva may be detected by conspecifics and serve as an indicator of territory boundaries, or as a scent trail for others to follow. Furthermore, Siberian roe deer release pheromones and other odorous chemicals from glands on their heads and legs. These chemicals may indicate territories or scent trails, but they also provide individual-specific information, such as age, sex, and reproductive status. Siberian roe deer also use visual cues to communicate states of alarm, arousal, or aggression. Males also use their antlers to leave visual scrape marks on objects in their territories. Tactile communication is common between adult females and their fawns, as well as during copulation. Siberian roe deer males also compete for mates by sparring with their antlers. (Danilkin, 1995; Nowak, 1999)

Food Habits

Siberian roe deer are herbivores - more specifically folivores. They consume the leaves, flowers, and stems of herbs and woody plants. They also consume mosses and fungi in winter months, when other food sources are scarce.

A 2011 study on Siberian roe deer in Siberia found seasonal differences in their diet. This study reported that pasque flower (Pulsatilla flavescens) and grasses/sedges made up about 50% each of Siberian roe deer diets in May. Woody material made up less than 2% of their diets in May, but made up around 65% of the diet by November. Siberian roe deer feed opportunistically, and even forage hay from farms. Across their geographic range, they consume over 600 different species of plants.

Fawns rely on milk from their mothers for around 5 months, although they do consume plant material as early as 5 days after birth. There are no differences in diet structure between sexes. (Danilkin, 1995; GBIF, 2022; Stepanova and Argunov, 2009)

  • Plant Foods
  • leaves
  • wood, bark, or stems
  • fruit
  • flowers
  • bryophytes
  • lichens


Humans (Homo sapiens) hunt Siberian roe deer, and were responsible for their near extinction from eastern Europe and northeastern Siberia in the early 20th century. Natural predators of Siberian roe deer include leopards (Panthera pardus), Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx), and grey wolves (Canis lupus). Rarely, Siberian roe deer fall prey to Amur tigers (Panthera tigris altaica), snow leopards (Panthera uncia), and brown bears (Ursus arctos).

Siberian roe deer live in groups to avoid predation. They exhibit vigilant behavior while foraging, and if they detect predators they use visual displays and alarm calls to alert group members of potential danger. (Argunov, 2020; Danilkin, 1995; GBIF, 2022; Lyngdoh, et al., 2014; Nowak, 1999)

Ecosystem Roles

Siberian roe deer are primarily folivores, but are known to disperse seeds and pollen of plants in their habitats. They also serve as prey for large predators, such as grey wolves (Canis lupus), Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx), and leopards (Panthera pardus).

Siberian roe deer are known to be hosts for four apicomplexan protist parasites: Theileria luwenshuni, Theileria capreoli, Theileria cervi, and Sarcocystis sibirica. They also serve as hosts for the trematode worm Fasicola hepatica. (Danilkin, 1995; Gashev, 2013; Jiang, et al., 2008; Lovari, et al., 2016; Nowak, 1999; Wang, et al., 2019; Weigl, 2005)

  • Ecosystem Impact
  • disperses seeds
Commensal/Parasitic Species
  • Trematodes (Fasciola hepatica)
  • Apicomplexan protists (Theileria cervi)
  • Apicomplexan protists (Theileria luenshumi)
  • Apicomplexan protists (Theileria capreoli)
  • Apicomplexan protists (Sarcocystis sibirica)

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Siberian roe deer are hunted by humans, primarily in Russia and China, for commercial purposes. Their meat and antlers are used for food and decoration, respectively. Trophy hunting is common, but fairly regulated. The Mongolian government sells Siberian roe deer hunting licenses for $550 USD each. (Danilkin, 1995; Gashev, 2013; Lovari, et al., 2016; Nowak, 1999)

  • Positive Impacts
  • food
  • body parts are source of valuable material

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Siberian roe deer are herbivores and therefore can be a crop pest for farmers. (Lee and Jeon, 2020; Lovari, et al., 2016)

  • Negative Impacts
  • crop pest

Conservation Status

Siberian roe deer are considered a species of "least concern" on the IUCN Red List. They have no special status on the U.S. Federal List, CITES, or the State of Michigan List.

Siberian roe deer are in decline due to overhunting by humans. Hunters tend to exploit them for their meat and antlers. During the 1800s, an estimated 500,000 roe deer were removed each year in Russia; although removal numbers are no longer so extreme, poaching remains an issue. Climate change is also exacerbating the impacts of overhunting. Colder winters force Siberian roe deer to migrate at times of year when there is increased hunting pressure. In Russia and Kazakhstan, there is increased poaching of individuals from the Cis-Caucasus population, which is isolated from other populations. Continued pressure on this population may lead to self-perpetuating negative effects on fitness due to genetic bottlenecks and inbreeding depression. Siberian roe deer are also negatively impacted by shifts in land use towards livestock grazing in Russia, which decreases the amount of available habitat. Siberian roe deer populations in China, North Korea, and South Korea have also decreased due to a combination of poaching and habitat loss.

Siberian roe deer are benefitting from efforts to more thoroughly regulate hunting. Populations of Siberian roe deer are also present in protected conservation areas throughout their geographic distribution. Bag limits and expensive hunting licenses have been set in several countries, which has reduced the amount of Siberian roe deer killed by legal hunting. However, illegal hunting - especially trophy hunting and poaching - has not yet been quantified. As a result, the impacts of such activities on Siberian roe deer populations is unknown. Minimizing habitat loss is another long-term conservation measure that will likely support Siberian roe deer populations, especially as the effects of climate change alter the distribution of suitable land cover types. (Danilkin, 1995; GBIF, 2022; Lee and Jeon, 2020; Lovari, et al., 2016)


Caleb Vinson (author), Radford University, Sierra Felty (editor), Radford University, Karen Powers (editor), Radford University, Galen Burrell (editor), Special Projects.



living in the northern part of the Old World. In otherwords, Europe and Asia and northern Africa.

World Map


uses sound to communicate


living in landscapes dominated by human agriculture.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


Found in coastal areas between 30 and 40 degrees latitude, in areas with a Mediterranean climate. Vegetation is dominated by stands of dense, spiny shrubs with tough (hard or waxy) evergreen leaves. May be maintained by periodic fire. In South America it includes the scrub ecotone between forest and paramo.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


active at dawn and dusk

embryonic diapause

At about the time a female gives birth (e.g. in most kangaroo species), she also becomes receptive and mates. Embryos produced at this mating develop only as far as a hollow ball of cells (the blastocyst) and then become quiescent, entering a state of suspended animation or embryonic diapause. The hormonal signal (prolactin) which blocks further development of the blastocyst is produced in response to the sucking stimulus from the young in the pouch. When sucking decreases as the young begins to eat other food and to leave the pouch, or if the young is lost from the pouch, the quiescent blastocyst resumes development, the embryo is born, and the cycle begins again. (Macdonald 1984)


animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

female parental care

parental care is carried out by females


union of egg and spermatozoan


an animal that mainly eats leaves.


A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.


An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.


offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).


makes seasonal movements between breeding and wintering grounds


having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


chemicals released into air or water that are detected by and responded to by other animals of the same species


having more than one female as a mate at one time


Referring to something living or located adjacent to a waterbody (usually, but not always, a river or stream).


specialized for leaping or bounding locomotion; jumps or hops.

scent marks

communicates by producing scents from special gland(s) and placing them on a surface whether others can smell or taste them

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

sexual ornamentation

one of the sexes (usually males) has special physical structures used in courting the other sex or fighting the same sex. For example: antlers, elongated tails, special spurs.


associates with others of its species; forms social groups.


lives alone


uses touch to communicate


Coniferous or boreal forest, located in a band across northern North America, Europe, and Asia. This terrestrial biome also occurs at high elevations. Long, cold winters and short, wet summers. Few species of trees are present; these are primarily conifers that grow in dense stands with little undergrowth. Some deciduous trees also may be present.


that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).


defends an area within the home range, occupied by a single animals or group of animals of the same species and held through overt defense, display, or advertisement

tropical savanna and grassland

A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.


A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.

temperate grassland

A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.


uses sight to communicate


reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.


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