Roebuck, a small European deer of the genus capreolus (H. Smith), the G. caproea of Gray, and the chevreuil of the French. The horns are small, nearly erect, cylindrical, slightly branched, with a very short peduncle and three short branches; the skull has a very small, shallow suborbital pit; the muffle broad and naked; tear bag indistinct; hoofs narrow and triangular, and a tuft of hair rather above the middle of the metatarsus. The color in summer is reddish brown, in winter olive with paler shades; inside of the ears fulvous, and a black spot at the angles of the mouth; the tail is short, and the anal disk is large and white; the hair in winter is thick and harsh, and in summer thinner and more flexible. It is about 4 ft. long, 2 1/4; ft. high at the shoulder and 2 1/2 ft. behind. It is one of the most graceful and active of the deer family, frequenting the woods and copses of the rocky regions of Europe from the Scottish highlands to the Tyrol, but in less wild districts than the stag. Its agility and speed are astonishing, 20 ft. being sometimes cleared at a single bound.
They are not polygamous, and a pair generally has two young at a birth, which are treated with the utmost tenderness by both parents, and often remain attached to each other after quitting the old ones; they congregate in small families, but not in herds, feeding on herbage and the buds and tender shoots of trees, from the latter habit often doing much mischief in a forest. The flesh is considered better than that of the stag, when the animal is properly killed. The horns are used for knife handles, etc.; they are dropped after the breeding season in November, and are reproduced during the winter. The period of gestation is five months. From their strong scent they are easily hunted, though they frequently escape by their speed, doublings, springing to cover, and other artifices to baffle the hounds. In northern Asia is found the ahu or Tartarian roebuck (C. py-gargus, Sundev.); this is larger, with longer and more prickly horns, and coarser and longer hair; the color is brownish above and yellowish below; there is no tail.
The roebucks are represented in North America by the Virginia deer (cariacus, Gray), and in South America by the brockets (coassus, Gray).
Roebuck (Capreolus capraea).