Protected Species

Animal name: Deer

Type: Mammal

Habitat: Woodland, moors, urban areas

Diet: Grasses, herbs and heathers

Lifespan: Up to 20 years

Active: Active at night throughout the year

Family: Male is called a buck or stag. Female is called a doe. Babies/young are called fawns.


Where do you find deer?

Deer are extremely widespread and can be found in almost every habitat in Scotland from moors and woodland to urban areas.

The four species of deer that inhabit Scotland are red, roe, fallow and sika deer.

What do they eat?

Deer are herbivores and can be seen grazing on grass, herbs, bramble and heathers.

What threats do deer face?

Deer coursing is illegal but can still happen.

Many deer are injured or killed in road traffic accidents especially in moors or woodland that roads run through.

What common problems/reasons lead to deer being cared by the Scottish SPCA?

Fawns are removed from their mothers by members of the public who think they are abandoned, injured or sick. This affects the mothers too and they can pass away from the trauma of discovering their fawn is missing.

Deer are easily startled and dogs should be kept on a lead if in an area where deer have been spotted. If a fawn encounters a perceived predator, even if it is not physically harmed, it can be frightening and the fawn can pass away from the shock.

We are often called to incidents of deer who have been hit by vehicles. Unfortunately, these deer often need to be euthanised. Deer are so easily stressed that the anxiety caused by moving the animal can be too much and they would not survive the journey to our National Wildlife Rescue Centre.

I've come across...

An injured or sick deer

If you can clearly see a deer that is injured or sick, contact our Animal Helpline immediately on 03000 999 999. We will give you advice and attend as quickly as possible.

If you come across an injured deer by the roadside, don’t stop and check on the animal until you find a safe place in the road to pull over.

Orphaned fawn

If you come across a fawn, please do not disturb them. It’s normal for a parent to leave them in a safe place from a young age in order to find food. The mother will leave them under bushes or in long grass to protect them and will return sometimes after several hours or when dark.

If the fawn is making a peeping noise and is in long grass they may be too young to be on their own and should be monitored from a safe distance to be sure the fawn needs help.

If there is no sign of the mother after several hours, give our Animal Helpline a call on 03000 999 999. We can give you advice and, if we think the fawn needs it, dispatch an animal rescue officer to assist.

Dead deer

If you come across a dead deer, you should call your local authority to assist with removal. We are only able to respond to reports of live animals in need.

Deer living in my garden

To deter deer from entering your garden you can exclude them using netting or fences. Make sure any fencing is tall and robust, as they can fit through small gaps under fencing or leap over them.

Deer should not be moved as it can cause a lot of distress. They are very nervous animals and will flee when scared which can result in them harming themselves and also humans.

If the deer are trapped in your garden you can phone our Animal Helpline on 03000 999 999. We will give you advice and if needed attend as quickly as possible.

Do not attempt to remove them yourself as you could cause further stress or injury to the deer and put yourself in danger.

How do we help deer at the National Wildlife Rescue Centre?

Fawns are a complex and challenging animal to care for. An orphaned fawn will be taken to our National Wildlife Rescue Centre and can spend up to six months in our care especially if they arrive in the colder months. They are bottle fed until they are able to self-feed and this is when we take a more hands off approach to prepare them for being released into the wild.

Additional Details

All deer themselves are protected by the Deer Scotland Act 1996.