Reindeer Facts

A Few Reindeer Facts That You May Not Know

Reindeer facts can give us some very interesting information about reindeer. Reindeer inhabit a frigid area of the world--the North Pole and Arctic tundra, and are found in the continents of Asia, Europe and North America.

The populations of wild reindeer have decreased immensely over the centuries due in most part to over-hunting and domestication. Many people believe that the reindeer was most likely the first hoofed animal which was domesticated. The first time a domesticated reindeer is mentioned is in 499. However, there are drawings of reindeer on the walls of caves that are dated back to the Stone Age, which is estimated to be around 25,000 years ago.

One of the reindeer facts many people find fascinating is that both male and female reindeer have antlers. One of the topics which has developed from that fact is that Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer, perhaps the most famous reindeer of all time, is a female. That’s because male reindeer lose their antlers in late fall, so any reindeer pulling a sleigh at Christmastime would have to be female. Female reindeer keep their antlers through the winter. Males don’t grow new antlers until spring.

Reindeer facts also tell us that reindeer are brown or grayish color. The underneath parts of their bodies are lighter, almost white in some cases. So are their buttocks and inner legs. Reindeer have a maned throat, a hairy muzzle and short tail and ears. A reindeer’s tail can be white along the sides but not on the main part of the tail. Their hoofs have a deep cleft and are flat and wide. Reindeer make a clicking sound when they walk.

The reindeer males rut in the fall, many times fighting among one another to establish who will be dominant in a herd of up to forty females. The fights among the males can be vicious. The female reindeer has a gestation period that can last up to 240 days. A calf can weigh between 8-17 lbs. and is able to walk in a couple of hours. The young can stay with their mothers from one to three years.

Reindeer farming is one way that people try to make a living in such places as Norway and other countries with reindeer populations.  Reindeer have been crossed with caribou, another species in the deer family. Reindeer facts indicate that domesticated reindeer tend to be much smaller than their wild relatives. A domesticated herd can be used for its meat, but also important is milk production.

While reindeer is the staple diet of many Northern peoples in Europe and the Arctic areas, it is not eaten to any extent in Great Britain. Reindeer milk is what makes the young grow quickly. It has a fat content of 20.8% and four times the butterfat of cow’s milk. It is used to make butter, yoghurt and cheese as well as regular milk. Even reindeer hides have a market, where they are used to stuff upholstery, plus reindeer thread can make watertight seams on anything from a canoe to a pair of boots.

Next to humans, wolves are the biggest danger to reindeer. Other predators include polar bears and brown bears. Because reindeer stay together in herds, many with thousands of individuals, attacks can often be prevented by group protection. In large herds, reindeer migrate in both the spring and the fall. They travel farther than any with mammal which lives on land. In fact, reindeer can travel as many as three thousand miles each year, most of it searching for food.

Reindeer facts can be quite enlightening because most of us will never have the opportunity in our lives to see one of these beautiful animals in person. While there are protective laws in most countries where reindeer reside, we still have to pay attention to the dwindling number of wild reindeer, and do everything in our power to help the population to increase, not decrease.

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