The reindeer is a mammal. It belongs to the deer family. Reindeer is the only deer species that has been tamed by humans. It lives in the far north of Europe and Asia, where it is called reindeer or reindeer. In the majority, they are called reindeer or reindeer. The same species also live in Canada and in Alaska. There they are called caribou, which comes from an Indian language.
The size of the reindeer depends on the habitat. It can grow to be about the size of a pony, also just as heavy. It wears thick fur with long hair against the cold. In winter, the coat is slightly lighter than in summer. The Peary caribou lives on a Canadian island. It is almost white and therefore very difficult to see in the snow.
Reindeer wear antlers like all deer, but with a few special features: the two parts are not mirror-inverted, i.e. symmetrical, but completely different. The female is the only deer species to have antlers, although they are smaller than the males. Females shed their antlers in spring and males in autumn. However, both only ever lose half an antler at a time, so half an antler always remains. It is not true that the reindeer use their antlers to shovel the snow away.
How do reindeer live?
Reindeer live in herds. Herds can be huge: up to 100,000 animals, in Alaska there is even a herd of half a million animals. In these herds, the reindeer migrate to the warmer south in autumn and back north in spring, always in search of food, i.e. grass and moss. In the end, they break up into smaller groups. Then there are only 10 to 100 animals together.
In the fall, the males try to gather a group of females around them. The male mates with as many females as possible. The female carries her cub in her belly for almost eight months. It’s always just one. Birth occurs in May or June. After an hour it can already walk, follow its mother, and drink milk from her. Many young animals only die when the weather is very wet and cold. After about two years, a young animal can have a young of its own. Reindeer live to be 12 to 15 years old.
Enemies of reindeer are wolves, lynxes, bears, and the wolverine, a special marten. However, healthy reindeer can usually outrun these predators. On the other hand, certain parasites are bad, especially arctic mosquitoes.
How do humans use reindeer?
Humans have hunted wild reindeer since the Stone Age. The meat is digestible. The fur can be used to sew clothes or tents. Tools can be made from antlers and bones.
Not only do people hunt wild reindeer, but they also keep reindeer as pets. For this purpose, the wild animals were only slightly bred. Tame reindeer are good for carrying loads or pulling sleighs. In many stories, Santa Claus has a reindeer in front of his sleigh.
Today’s reindeer herds are free to roam, people just follow them. They then round them up, tag the young and take away individual animals to be slaughtered or sold. If you keep a reindeer nearby, you can drink its milk or process it into cheese. Reindeer milk is much more nutritious than milk from our cows.