The winter roe deer
When we first found it, it still had its eyes, which are the sometimes the first signs of predation (being eaten) because birds can peck them. The eyes were clear at first, but two days later they were starting to go cloudy.
After 14 days, there were very few signs at all of death. During that time the temperature had been between about 10c and -2c, and was mostly between 0-5c.By this point, the eyes have gone solid white, but there were very few signs of decomposition and no obvious smell from a few feet away.
After another ten days, there is still not much change, although the fur is starting to look shabby, and the eyes are pure white.
The summer roe deer
As you can see, the back left leg had been completely removed at the hip and taken away, almost certainly by a fox. I never found where it ended up, but at the time I did film the fox going past the trail camera with something in its mouth. This is why it's not unusual to find just two legs with a deer skeleton, because the rest may have been taken away.
Eight days later, and the fox had been snacking away more:
Foxes often start going into the chest cavity from under the back legs, where the skin is soft, then pull away the insides without having to go through the hard rib cage. Here the fox (and probably buzzards and red kite as well) have been working up the body, and breaking the ribs as they go. The spine is still intact because the soft tissue between the vertebrae is very tough, and the last part to decompose.
After sixteen days in a not very hot summer, the remains look a bit gruesome, but they are almost skeletonised:
By 36 days after death, the skull was entirely clean.
The predated roe deer buck
For much of last year my trail camera was on the moors in the two pine marten woods, and I also wrote about the roe deer that lived in the same woods. I hadn't been up there for ages, but found this roe buck last weekend (on the 4th January). Although I thought I knew all the six bucks in that area, this one was a different one.
It still has the spine tissue intact, so looks a lot like the summer roe did at 16 days, which would mean it would have died around the 18th December. But it couldn't possibly have died then because it has a full set of last years antlers, and in roe deer the antlers fall off in late November or early December. But I literally have no clue when it died, but if I were guessing I would say September or October.
There are other signs of predation. The nose has been bitten off, which is either a sign of foxes wanting to get at the blood-rich tissue inside, or a sign it was killed by a big cat, depending what you believe.
Normally foxes bite through the belly, go under the ribcage and take organs from there, but here the ribcage has been cracked open.
But there's a twist !
Enjoy this post ? Share it !