Reindeer

ANIMAL:
Reindeer            Rangifer Tarandus

Type of Animal:
Deer

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

Location(s):
N. Europe & N. Asia w/ populations in Greenland, Scotland & E. Iceland. Farmed in Alaska. Feral populations in Alaska.

Appearance:
1 of 2 deer in which bulls & cows have antlers (other being caribou), grayish-brownish coat w/ 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, semi-domesticated/domesticated in many areas

Conservation:
Breeding on farms, zoos, & wildlife parks. Farmed for meat, hide, & use as pack/draught animals.

Lifestyle:
Herds of 30-1,000. Bulls gather harems during rut (breeding season).

Additional Info:

Called:
Male-Bull
Female-Cow
Young-Calf
Group-Herd
 
Weight:
Male-143-520 lbs
Female-121-308 lbs
Young-10-20 lbs

Gestation:
7.5 months

Life Span:
13-15 years

Height:
Male-3.7 ft
Female-3.4 ft

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

Tail Length:
6-8.4 in

Main predators of adults 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.
 
4th largest deer species.
 
Hooves adapt to season. Sponge-like in summer when tundra soft & wet, hooves shrink & tighten in winter when tundra icy.
 
Can run up to 50 mph.
 
Very good sense of smell.
 
Like other deer, antlers shed annually. Bull antlers hardest during rut & shed after rut, growing back in March or April. Cows shed theirs in summer.
 
Source of food/hide in many Northern cultures.
 
Believed to have been first domesticated between Bronze & Iron Ages.
 
Very well-adapted for frigid weather, handling temps as low as -50 F w/ ease.

Fun Fact(s):
Shown often in Scandinavian heraldry/symbols.
  
All Santa’s reindeer are female (including Rudolph), since only females keep antlers for winter.
  
Sled/sleigh races very popular in winter in much of their range.
 
Calves able to run within hours after birth.
 
Normally well mannered, bulls in rut & cows w/ calves can be aggressive.

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