Reindeer Facts for Kids
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What is a reindeer?
Reindeer are also known as caribou. In Europe, they are only called reindeer. In North America, they are called caribou in the wild and when they are domesticated they are called reindeer.
Reindeer are mammals and part of the deer family.
Scientific Name: Rangifer Tarasndus.
Reindeer can run up to 50 miles per hour! That’s one fast deer!
Where do reindeer live?
Reindeer live in some of the coldest places on earth. They live in the Northern parts of North America including Canada and Alaska also in Europe, Russia, and Greenland. Lets us not forget with Santa at the North Pole.
Reindeer live on tundras. Tundra is a vast flat, treeless land covered in snow most of the time in the Arctic region.
Reindeer live in large groups called herds.
Herds of Reindeer migrate throughout the year. Migrate means to move from place to place.
During the winter reindeer herds migrate South to find a place that is less cold. During the summer they migrate North.
Reindeer usually migrate around 1,200 miles a year. Some herds will travel more than 3,000 miles per year. That is one of the world’s largest migrations.
What do reindeer look like?
Reindeer look like large deer with four legs and antlers.
Reindeer are usually between 4-5ft tall, not including their antlers. Their antlers are around 3ft tall. If you add their height along with the height of their antlers, some reindeer can be 8ft tall!
Did you know that reindeer are the only deer in which both male and females grow antlers? It’s true both male and female reindeer can grow antlers.
Male reindeer shed their antlers every winter, female reindeer will shed their antlers in the spring. Once they shed their antlers, new ones with stary to grow in.
Reindeer antlers are actually rubbery, living masses of blood and marrow when they are growing.
The antlers will grow throughout late winter through until around August, then the bone begins to harden.
Like a human’s fingerprint, no two reindeer antlers are exactly the same.
A reindeer mostly has different shades of brown soft fur with white fur on their neck and parts of their back. Their fur may also be gray or rust like color.
Reindeer have a double coat of fur to protect them against the cold, harsh climate that they live in.
Male reindeer can weight up to 700 pounds. Males are larger than females, sometimes a male can be doubled the size of a female. On average reindeer weight 240-700 pounds.
Reindeer have split hooves, meaning their hooves are split into two toes. Hooves are hard coverings that protect the reindeer’s feet. Their hooves are used to dig for food in the snow. The outer edges of their hooves are sharp while help them walk on ice and rocks.
Reindeer’s have an ankle tendon which rubs over a bone causing a clicking sound when they walk. That clicking sound helps the reindeer keep track of each other especially when they can’t see in bad weather.
What do reindeer eat?
Reindeer are herbivores meaning they are plant eaters. They eat lichen a type of moss, grass, and plant that grow on rock and or trees.
In the winter reindeer will look for food under the snow. They will use their hooves to dig holes through the snow. They will continue to dig through layers of snow until they find food.
In the warmer months, they will eat plants that have grown in the tundra.
Reindeer can eat up to 12 pounds of food every day.
Fall is mating season for reindeer. During the fall male reindeer also called bulls with fight each other using their antlers.
The female reindeer also called a cow will mate with the reindeer who was the better fighter.
Female reindeer is pregnant for 7-8 months. She will give birth to 1-2 babies in the spring. The reindeer baby is called a calf. Calves are usually 10-11 pounds when they are born.
They can run within a few hours of being born. Calves will drink milk from their mother after they are born. A reindeer’s milk has more fat than cows milk. The fat-filled milk helps the calf grow big and strong. They will be able to eat food with their mom after a week old.
A calves antlers will start to grow when they are two months old. They will start off as small bumps and growing bigger every year.
A calf will stay with their mother for up to two years. Then the calf will become an adult reindeer and become part of the herd.
One reason reindeer live in herds is protection against predators. A predator has a better chance of attacking one alone reindeer than a large group.
Some reindeer predators include gray wolves, grizzly bears, wolverines, and golden eagles.
As many of you know reindeer have an important job, they pull Santa’s sled every Christmas Eve. Without reindeer how would Santa be able to deliver all his presents?
How does Santa’s reindeer fly? Well, it’s magic! Some say that Santa’s reindeer have been sprinkled with a magical dust that makes them be able to fly.
Can you name all of Santa’s Reindeer?
Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen. Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and we can’t forget Rudolph