Caribou

ANIMAL:
Caribou                    Rangifer tarandus

Type of Animal:
Deer

Habitat:
Tundra, mountainous areas, boreal forest/taiga, subarctic areas, grassland

Location(s):
Alaska, many parts of Canada, & an area on Washington-Idaho-Montana border. Formerly found in N. Minnesota, N. Wisconsin, N. Michigan, NE New York, & N. New England. Also formerly found in all of Quebec & E Canada.

Appearance:
One of 2 deer in which bulls & cows have antlers (other being reindeer), grayish-brownish coat with white areas, bigger antlers on bull.

Food/Diet:
Grasses, herbs, leaves, shrubs, lichens, shoots, twigs, mosses, mushrooms, willows, birches, sedges, cotton grass, bark, berries, fruit, lemmings, birds eggs, arctic char

Status in Wild:
Stable

Conservation:
Breeding in zoos & wildlife parks. Proposed reintroduction programs into areas of former range, mainly in parts of Canada, Washington-Idaho-Montana border, Maine, & Minnesota. Canada has had more success than U.S.

Lifestyle:
Large herds from 30-1,000. During migrations, herds from 20,000-500,000 are seen. Bulls gather harems during rut (breeding season).

Additional Info:

Called:
Male-Bull
Female-Cow
Young-Calf
Group-Herd

Weight:
Male-350-600 lbs
Female-175-308 lbs
Young-10-20 lbs

Gestation:  
7.5 months

Height:
Male-3.7 ft
Female-3.4 ft

Body Length:
Male-6-7 ft
Female-5.3-6.75 ft

Life Span: 
13-15 years

Tail Length:
6-8.4 in

Main predators are wolves, bears, lynx, wolverines, & Greenland sharks. Golden Eagles prey on calves.

Fights between bulls usually ritualized but deaths have occurred due to locked antlers resulting in starvation & exhaustion of both participants.

Antlers on cows fall off in late spring to early summer, on bulls in late November-December.

3rd largest deer species.

Hooves adapt to season. Sponge-like in summer when tundra soft & wet, hooves shrink & tighten in winter when tundra icy.

Source of food/hide for many northern cultures, such as Inuit.

Can run up to 50 mph.

Maggots burrowing into skin can cause high mortality rate to some herds.

Won’t hesitate to cross large bodies of water in migrations.

Very good sense of smell.

Fun Fact(s):
It’s the animal on the Canadian 25 cent coin.

Calves able to run within hours after birth.

Normally well mannered, bulls in rut & cows with calves can be aggressive.
 

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