Reindeer            Rangifer Tarandus

Type of Animal:

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

N. Europe & N. Asia w/ populations in Greenland, Scotland & E. Iceland. Farmed in Alaska. Feral populations in Alaska.

1 of 2 deer in which bulls & cows have antlers (other being caribou), grayish-brownish coat w/ white areas, bigger antlers on bull.

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

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

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

Additional Info:

Male-143-520 lbs
Female-121-308 lbs
Young-10-20 lbs

7.5 months

Life Span:
13-15 years

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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