specific namepygargus, literally "white-rumped", is shared by the
pygarg, an antelope known in antiquity. The name was chosen by the German biologist
Peter Simon Pallas in the late 18th century.The Siberian roe deer has long antlers.
The Siberian roe deer was once considered to be the same species as the European
roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), but it is now considered to be a separate species.
The two subspecies of the Siberian roe deer are C. p. pygargus and C. p. tianschanicus (the latter is named for the
Tian Shan mountains).
The Siberian roe deer is a moderately-sized metacarpalian deer, with a long neck and large ears. It is typically up to 146 cm (4.8 ft) in body length and 59 kg (130 lb) in weight, making it larger than C. capreolus where populations from Ural and Northern Kazakhstan are the largest on average, followed by those from Transbaikal, Amur, and Primolskil regions. It has larger
antlers with more branches than those of European roe deer. Siberian roe deer generally live about 8–12 years, with a maximum of about 18 years. In winter the northern populations exhibit light gray coloring, but their southern counterparts are grayish brown and ochraceous. The belly is creamy and the caudal patch is white. In the summer, their coloring is reddish. Young have a spotted coat. Males are larger and have three-tined antlers, widely spaced and slanting upward, which are shed in the autumn or early winter and begin to regrow shortly thereafter.
Distribution and habitat
Siberian roe deer are found within the temperate zone of Eastern Europe and Central and East Asia. Fossil records show their territory once stretched to the northern
Caucasus Mountains, as well as eastern
Ukraine. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, their range was diminished by overhunting in Eastern Europe, northern Kazakhstan, western Siberia, and the northern regions of eastern Siberia. Due to a division in their range, two morphologically different subspecies resulted (Tian Shan and Siberian). The Siberian and European roe deer meet at the Caucasus Mountains with the Siberian roe deer occupying the northern flank, and the European roe deer occupying the southern flank,
Asia Minor, and parts of northwestern
The Siberian roe deer has a light, slender build adapted for tall, dense grass. They live in forest and
steppe habitats and develop high densities in tall-grass meadows and floodplains. They are adapted to severe weather extremes.
It may have become naturalized in
England for a short period in the early 20th century as an escapee from Woburn, but it was
extirpated by 1945.
The diet of the Siberian roe deer consists of over 600 species of plants – mostly
monocotyledons (16%), and woody species (22%). In winter, without proper sustenance, they have a lowered
metabolic rate. In summer, their dietary need for
sodium necessitates visits to natural
salt licks. Water is usually obtained through moisture-rich foods as opposed to directly from the source.
Siberian roe deer can jump distances up to 15 m (49 ft), and mating occurs in August and September. Female Siberian roe deer are the only ungulates to undergo
embryonic diapause. Embryonic implantation takes place in January and gestation lasts 280–300 days. Females usually have two young at a time, which are weaned after 4–5 months. Females reach sexual maturity in their first year of age but usually do not breed until their second. Males usually mate in their third year of life. The life-span of the Siberian roe deer does not usually exceed 10 years.
Males mark their territory with olfactory marks, using secretion glands on the head skin, which they rub against trees, shrubs, and high grasses, or with visual marks, by fraying trees with their antlers. Vocal signals are also a form of communication in Siberian roe deer. They have six signals: squeaking or whistling, rasping, barking, whining, screaming, and nonvocal sounds.
Some Siberian roe deer perform mass migrations.
abO. E. Tsaplyuk (1977). "Age-related and seasonal peculiarities of the reproduction biology of the roe deer (Capreolus capreolus L.) of Kazakhstan". Zoologicheskii Zhurnal (in Russian and English). 56: 611–618.
^V. S. Gromov (1986). The morphological variability, behavior and systematics of the roe deer (
Ph.D. thesis) (in Russian). Moscow.