Reindeer – diet, habitat, facts and lifespan with images

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Updated: October 25, 2016

Reindeers are truly fascinating animals. They are large mammals whose speed and other features can capture our attention instantly, especially if we look a little more in detail at each of these aspects. Join us in this curious tour to learn some very interesting facts about reindeer.

  1. Another name for a reindeer is caribou reindeer.
  2. The reindeers live in large groups, smaller ones have 20 members. At the other extreme, the largest herds of reindeers contain thousands of these animals.
  3. The reindeer is the only deer that can be tamed. It is an animal that provides butter, meat, cheese, clothing and transport to humans.
  4. A dominant male reindeer gains control of a harem of 5 to 15 females in the rutting season.
  5. The reindeer can lower the temperature of their feet in extremely cold weather, thus, preventing loss of body heat.
  6. A male reindeer’s antlers fall at the end of winter, but they grow back soon.
  7. Reindeer’s milk is rich in protein and fat.
  8. It is the only species of deer in which all males, females, and calves have antlers.
  9. The average life of the reindeer is usually from 12 to 15 years.
  10. It is an animal whose habitat is in the Arctic areas of both North America and Eurasia.

Reindeer and Caribou

So far, it is considered that the European and Asian reindeer and American caribou were the same animals; however, recent studies show that each evolved from different species, although they are related. They lived 21,000 years ago.

The reindeer can run from birth

Incredibly, reindeer can run from birth. In a span of 90 minutes, the reindeer babies are at a good pace; a few hours later, they are already able to walk kilometers.

The reindeer shed their legs

As if it were footwear, reindeer shed their legs in the different seasons. In summer, they become soft and spongy to cross the tundra; in winter, they shrink and tense, revealing their hooves, which allow them to advance on the ice and dig for food.

The reindeer could detect ultraviolet light

It seems that the reindeer are the only mammals on the planet that can detect ultraviolet light, which helps them to see their food and their prey in the vast whiteness of the Arctic.

The antlers of reindeer

Reindeers, both males and females have antlers; the difference is that the former lose them when winter arrives and the latter, late in the season.

The reindeer do not fly but run fast

In fact, the reindeers do not fly, but they run fast. It is believed that they can reach 80 km/h, especially if they are persecuted or feel the presence of a predator.

How can reindeer live in the cold?

In order to withstand the harsh climatic conditions of their habitats, reindeers have very useful adaptations. Instead of having a thick coat, holes are covered with hairs that are filled with air and maintain the isolated environment of the body.

The curious vocalizations of a reindeer

Despite being rather quiet, reindeers have interesting vocalizations. Females emit sounds in the first months of giving birth to their young during the summer. Males, on the other hand, do so only in the autumn during the mating season.

The reindeers lived farther south than it is believed

Although the reindeer often live in the most northern regions of the planet, it is known that in the nineteenth century, some populations spread to southern Idaho. Unfortunately due to indiscriminate hunting, habitat loss and accelerated global climate change have pushed them back further north.

As you can see, the reindeers are not mythical animals of legends and Christmas traditions alone. They are fascinating mammals that inhabit the colder areas of our planet and are interesting to know about a little more.

More facts and trivia about the Reindeers, also known as Caribou:
(a species of deer that lives in the tundra and taiga zones of the northern hemisphere)

-Reindeers are excellent swimmers and can cross rivers easily with very wide jumps.

-A reindeer weighs 5 to 10 kg and can stand on its feet minutes after its birth.

-In females and young reindeers, the antlers shed between March and April, and almost immediately, they regrow new ones.

-The reindeer stand out for their presence in the Christmas culture through the mythical Christmas Reindeer, which would be responsible for pulling the sleigh of Santa Claus.


In this article, we presented all the information about the reindeer inhabiting the northern hemisphere.

The reindeer or caribou is the only species belonging to the Rangifer species. These are classified into four subspecies of reindeer from which most are native to Eurasia and other parts of America.

Female and male reindeers differ in weight; the female species weigh about 60 to 170 kg, while males can reach 300kg.

The reindeers have antlers; they fall depending on the age of the caribou. In the old males, they fall in December, the females during the summer and the young males in the mid-spring season.

Domestic reindeers have shorter legs as well and they outweigh the wild species.

Reindeer are ruminants, meaning that their stomachs have four chambers. Reindeer food is mainly based on willow leaves, sedges, birch, grass, and lichens. They can also eat eggs, small birds, and rodents.

Caribou or reindeer has the thickest of all kinds of deer fur, their hair is wavy, long, hard, dense and brittle; these are in the front of the neck and often come down to the chest.

During the winter, this hair can reach a length of 6cm. The coat of caribou is very smooth. It has a uniform length, which averages approximately 4cm thick; it is for this reason that this species may face very low temperatures smoothly.

Caribou is the name of the reindeer living in America. Some researchers say that they correspond to a different kind of species of reindeers. The caribou (American reindeer) is higher than the European reindeer, presents quite remarkable differences, as the caribou weighs about 200kg and exceeds 1.40 meters; besides the horns are larger than the European reindeer, as their fur is darker. One of the big differences is that the caribou cannot be tamed by man as reindeer.

In late September begins the mating season, males fight each other, and spend long hours with their horns intertwined until the victor gets the female.

A reindeer pregnancy is about 30 weeks and the births occur in mid-April.


Reindeer (Scientific name: Rangifer tarandus), also known as caribou, is a quadruped mammal belonging to the family of deer. It is the only animal species belonging to the genus Rangifer. It is notable for the large horns possessing both females and males.


Physical characteristics of Reindeer

The reindeers have a robust figure. They have short legs, broad hooves and recessed, which allows them to walk more easily on the snow. They have a thick fur cloak, thick and wavy, brown or gray, and in some cases, black. The coat color always varies according to the subspecies and the time of year and when it is winter, this becomes smoother.

The length of the body of a reindeer is between 1.2 and 2.2 meters, and the height is 1.40 meters measured to the withers. Its tail can measure between 10 and 21 centimeters long. Its antler grows to one meter in length and it falls annually and grows back. The antlers of females are smaller.

Unlike females, adult males are heavier, reaching between 90 and 320 kilograms, while adult females weigh between 60 and 180 kilograms. In addition, the size of a reindeer always varies according to their environment and the amount of food they eat daily.




The reindeers live in colder climates such as tundra and boreal coniferous forests. They are in Canada, Russia, Greenland, Alaska and northern Asia. In the past, the reindeers lived farther south, in some states of the United States such as Nevada and Tennessee and in Spain.


Diet of Reindeer

Their diet consists of moss, lichens, buds, leaves and young branches of different kinds of plants. In the summers, they consume up to five kilograms of food daily. This kind of animal is able to eat poisonous plants without suffering any kind of damage. That is why plants such as buttercups glaciers are also included in their diet.



The rutting season begins in late September. The males fight each other for dominance of breed and flock. Female gestation lasts about thirty-three weeks, the lambing occurs in April. The reindeers give birth to a single calf. It is raised by its mother who protects it and it suckles for a long time.


Wonderful Reindeer Pictures











General information

Males tend to separate from the pack and live alone for the rest of their lives. They just return to the herd when the breeding season arrives.

Reindeer is an animal species that has a high degree of intelligence.

Currently, there is a population of approximately one million reindeers in Alaska.

Herds of reindeers tend to migrate thousands of kilometers each year, provided the females begin migration.

It is estimated that this species reaches fifteen years.

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