Reindeer are built for cold regions

There are numerous sub-species of caribou (Rangifer tarandus); the three main ones are the woodland, the barren ground and Arctic caribou. The Arctic is more commonly known as a reindeer.

Reindeer are found in Arctic regions in Norway, Siberia, Greenland, Iceland, Alaska and Canada. Reindeer, part of the deer family, have antlers that begin growth in the summer and are shed sometime during the winter. Both male and female reindeer grow these antlers, which are the second largest racks, eclipsed only by moose racks.

Reindeer or Arctic Caribou

Credit: - Dean Biggins

Male reindeer are larger than females. The females range between 130 and 400 pounds, while the males average between 200 and 700 pounds.

Reindeer have special adaptations for life on the tundra. Their noses have special boney plates that heat and moisturize cold, dry Arctic air before it reaches their lungs. The hooves of reindeer and other caribou change during the year. In the summer the hooves become soft and spongy to help with traction on the damp surface of the tundra, while in the winter the hoof hardens, increasing traction on ice and allowing the reindeer to dig through the snow and ice to reach food. Reindeer are herbivores, eating only plant material, typically moss, lichens, grasses and plant leaves.

Reindeer have long been herded and utilized by people for livestock. In many areas they have been domesticated, especially throughout Russia, Iceland and Scotland.

And, we all know of that highly skilled reindeer herd located somewhere around the North Pole.

Article by FCFCDB

Nature Notes for 12/23/2012