top of page

There is more to Reindeer than pulling Santa"s sleigh!

  1. In Europe Reindeer go back 16,000 years where they were once abundant. Primitive humans relied heavily on them for their skins to keep them warm, meat to sustain them and bones to create tools. They are the only deer to be domesticated some 3,000 tears ago.

  2. Adult female reindeer weigh 60-100Kg, males 90-180Kg.

  3. Reindeer eat certain types of lichen and have ultra violet vision which allows them to find food even under 60cm of snow! These plant materials help top keep them warm so that they can survive icy winters.

  4. Reindeer can adjust to great changes in temperature -50℃ in the winter to +40℃ in the summer. Their bodies react to changes in temperatures by making adjustments. When temperatures become frigid, they have the uncanny ability to lower the temperature in their legs to near freezing levels which keeps their core body heat even. For winter grazing they grow their facial hair long enough to cover their mouths, protecting their muzzles from the snow. There are two layers of fur consisting of an ultra-fine and dense underfur, and a shaggy outer layer. The outer hairs are hollow and provide insulation, similar to the fur of a polar bear. Reindeer moult their winter coat in the spring looking rather blotchy but soon revealing a fine summer coat.

  5. Reindeer antlers are made of solid bone, and have a living velvet  covered skin whilst growing up to 2cm a day! Reindeer are the only species of deer in which both males and females grow antlers and they are also the only mammals with antlers that regenerate. In late August the antlers stop growing and the males come into rut, the velvet is lost and the antlers harden. The antlers show dominance and hierarchy in the herd, but they have other purposes as well. Females keep their antlers through the winter, which helps them compete fairly for food. They drop their antlers in spring during calving season. Male reindeer shed their antlers around January and grow them back in the spring.

  6. When reindeer walk you will hear a clicking sound, these are the tendons in the feet joints. The clicking helps herds stay together in low visibility. Reindeer have large feet with two toes and two dew claws, which help spread the body weight and provide grip in the snow and icy conditions.

  7. To the Sami, the indigenous people of Finland, Sweden, Norway and Russia. Reindeer are important animals both in their culture and for sustenance. They have approximately 400 words for the food, tools and other products and parts taken from reindeer.

  8. The largest reindeer species, the Finnish forest reindeer, measures approximately 240cm in length from snout to tail and they have longer legs than other reindeer species. They have adapted to forest life by evolving with wide hooves, which help them dig through the snow for lichen, and antler pairs that grow closer together than those of other reindeer sub-species. These differences help Finnish forest reindeer move through woodlands unobstructed.

  9. Reindeer are strong, energy-efficient running machines. A 6-10 kg calf can outrun a man, and reindeer in general are more efficient than most other land mammals.

Reindeer have a long history in culture and myth.  That history has given way to further study to learn about how unique they are.  

bottom of page