Reindeer, which are also known as caribou, have a magical aura about them ever since they were first tied in to the mythical Santa Claus. While many people associate reindeer with Christmas, not many know anything else about this amazing animal. Take a look at our list of 23 fun and awesome facts about reindeer to learn more.
1. The reindeer’s body is covered with a winter coat that provides insulation at the freezing temperatures. The color of their fur depends widely on the species, ranging from dark brown to light brown.
2. They are fairly large mammals, reaching weights between 240 and 700 pounds and a height between 4 and 5 feet, when measured at the shoulder.
3. The reindeer is the only member of the deer family where both the males and females have antlers.
4. They have hooves. The hooves are concave shaped and are adapted to walking across deep snow.
5. Female reindeer have shorter antlers but they wear them longer than males. The antlers in females show dominance and they will shed from soon after giving birth to an offspring.
6. Male reindeer will shed their antlers right after mating season is over.
7. Apart from competing during mating season, antlers are used for digging snow during their search for food in the winter.
8. Most subspecies of reindeer migrate. They are known to travel 3,000 miles per year in search of better food sources.
9. Reindeer are plant based eaters, herbivores. Depending on the season, it’s known to feed on various plants, grass and lichens.
10. They are incredible fast and agile. They can run up to 50 miles per hour, sometimes even faster if they’re being pursued by a hungry predator.
11. Even though it’s one of the larger mammals in its habitat, the reindeer has a lot of predators. Its main predators are: wolves, bears, lynx, wolverines and golden eagles.
12. When they’re faced with danger, they release a scent that warns others. The scent is produced in a gland located at the base of their ankles.
13. Their mating season is between September and November. Male reindeer will compete against each other and the most dominant male will get the opportunity to mate with the females. The winner of the competition will mate with 15 to 20 females.
14. Female reindeer are pregnant for about 7 and a half months. The pregnancy ends with one offspring that’s able to stand within minutes of birth. By the very next day, the offspring is able to run and somewhat keep up with its mother.
15. After a year and a half, the young offspring is entirely independent.
16. Wild reindeer survive for about 4 and a half years, largely due to a large number of predators.
17. Reindeer noses are specifically designed to warm the air before it gets in their lungs.
18. Their hooves expand in the summer when the ground is soft and shrink in the winter when the ground is hard.
19. Some subspecies of reindeer have knees that make clicking noises while they walk so that they don’t get separated from the group in a blizzard.
20. Reindeer have been herded for centuries by several Arctic and Subarctic people.
21. The nae “reindeer” comes from the Norse word “hreinn” for deer.
22. The reindeer is on the Canadian 25 cent coin, right on the other side of Queen Elizabeth II.
23. Reindeer are known as an umbrella species because they help ensure the survival of ecosystems and people around them. Their constant foraging and droppings add much needed nutrients to the soil and water. They are prey for many carnivores and they are an important part of Inuit culture and livelihoods for centuries.