All About Those Reindeer: 7 fun facts

Photo courtesy of Rooftop Landing Reindeer Farm

Photo courtesy of Rooftop Landing Reindeer Farm

If I could be a veterinarian for Santa’s reindeer, I think my life would be complete.  Spending afternoons with the jolly ole fellow, sipping egg nog, and discussing how to best care for the sleigh-pulling team who bring joy to so many. Bucket list: complete!

Since my distaste for North Pole temperatures (among other things) prevents me from checking this goal off my bucket list, and since I have 4 year old who asks me all. the. questions.  I thought this Christmas season I would bring myself up to speed on the magical cervids that serve the big guy.  In doing so, I found out some pretty cool facts y’all might enjoy.  Sit back, refill your hot cocoa, adjust that Santa cap & read on!

 

1.     Reindeer vs. Caribou

Reindeer? Caribou? What is the difference? The both have the same scientific identity: Rangifer tarandus but reindeer were domesticated thousands of years ago while caribou are considered wild animals.  Reindeer are typically very friendly & easy to train!

 

2.     Both male & female reindeer grow antlers!

Unlike other deer species, both male and female reindeer have antlers.  The males typically shed their antlers in December while female reindeer keep their antlers until March/April.

 

3.     Baby reindeer have their first set of antlers by 4-5 months of age

 

4.     “Up on the roof top click, click, click, down through the chimney with good Saint Nick”

Reindeer actually do make a clicking sound when they wall.  A tendon snaps over a sesamoid bone in their feet creating a clicking sound.  Scientists believe it helps keep the herd together through snow and fog-like conditions.

 

5.      Santa’s reindeer are probably all girls!

That’s right ladies! Female reindeer (called cows) enter into the winter months at 50% body fat (compared to their male counterparts at only 5%) which helps keep them warm in subzero temperatures.  The cows also keep their antlers all winter long while male reindeer shed their antlers by Christmas.

 

6.     Reindeer are fast!

Reindeer can run at speeds of 48mph, perfect for take-off!

 

7.     Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer

Turns out reindeer do have a red nose.  The nose of a reindeer has 25 percent more capillaries (small blood vessels) than humans.  While the reindeer are flying high up in the atmosphere, pulling Santa’s sleigh, the increased blood flow helps keep their nose warm.

 

I hope you learned something new.  Cozy up & enjoy this holiday season!  Wishing all of you a happy & healthy 2018!

Leigh Hofmeister, DVM, Blog Signature – Leigh Hofmeister, DVM

Sources: National Geographic and LiveScience.com

Leigh Hofmeister