YOUR WEEKLY DOSE OF WOWZERS AND WONDER FROM THE NATURAL WORLD
There is a good chance you’ve seen a few reindeer on TV in recent days — either real or animated. And, of course, everyone knows about Rudolph. But what else do you know about reindeer?
In this issue of Wowzerful, we’re going to look at these majestic animals and find out what makes Santa’s furry friends so amazing.
You can find reindeer across a wide range of Earth’s Northern Hemisphere, with native herds in the Arctic Tundra, Greenland, Scandinavia, Russia, Alaska, and Canada.
However, in North America, they go by a different name — caribou.
They stick to cooler climates, spending up to 40% of their life in the snow.
Thanks to their cloven hooves and hollow fur, they can easily navigate in slippery or soft snow, staying nice and toasty while foraging.
Speaking of food, leaves and plants can be hard to find in snowy climates. So reindeer prefer to dine on lichen — a type of mossy fungi — during colder months.
As members of the deer family, these furry creatures can be as tall as 2.14 metres (7 feet) at the shoulders and weigh up to 317.5 kilograms (700 pounds).
Their antlers can measure up to 1.4 metres (4.6 feet) long!
Historians believe that reindeer have been friends with humans and helping us pull sleds, carry heavy items, provide transportation, and serve as a source of food, fur, and milk for more than 3000 years!
In fact, of the roughly 25 million reindeer on the planet today, it’s estimated that roughly half are domesticated.
The Arctic Tundra, Greenland, Scandinavia, Russia, Alaska, and Canada
Reindeer are the only species of deer where both males and females can grow antlers.
Large male reindeer antlers can have as many as 44 points.
Reindeer are excellent swimmers capable of reaching 10 km/hour (6.2 mph) with ease.
Reindeer noses include extra veins to help circulate blood and warm the air they breathe, so red noses are totally possible!
The largest single herd of reindeer lives in the Siberian tundra. Known as the Taimyr Herd, the population can reach up to 1,000,000 reindeer depending on new births and the time of year!
Reindeers have extra long foot hair that can act as tread under their hooves for added grip in slippery situations.
Reindeer herds travel between 1,609 and 4,828 kilometres (1,000 and 3,000 miles) every winter in search of food.
Next time your parents make you eat your vegetables, be glad you’re not a reindeer. Adult reindeer eat between 4 and 8 kilograms (8.8 and 17.6 pounds) of vegetation daily!
Witness the mass migration of hundreds of thousands of reindeer in Lapland, Finland.