Reindeer

Name

Reindeer

Scientific Name

Rangifer tarandus 

Characteristics

Reindeer, also known as Caribou in North America have a fur coat that consists of an outer layer of straight, hollow, tubular hairs which provide insulation from the cold and a woolly undercoat. The coat colour is generally brown to grey on the upperparts and pale to white on the underparts, although the colour can vary from almost black to white depending on location.

The reindeer has long, sweeping antlers that re-grow each year. They are the only deer species where both the male and female possess antlers, although the female antlers are much smaller and simpler. Overall the females tend to be smaller and more slender in comparison to the male.

A number of vocalisations are produced by the reindeer. Adults snort when alarmed and the male roars during the breeding season.

Diet

The reindeer eats a wide variety of plants and typically selects food that is the most nutritious and easily digestible. As the reindeer is a ruminant it has a compartmentalised stomach and relies on micro-organisms and re-chewing to digest food.

Size Fact

A male’s antlers can reach up to 130 cm

Food Fact

Reindeer can smell food like lichen and plants, under the snow

Fun Fact

Reindeer feet click when they walk, due to a tendon slipping over the bone

IUCN Red list

The reindeer is classified as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List, however they are hunted extensively for their meat.

Where do I live?

The reindeer is an Arctic and Subarctic-dwelling deer that lives in arctic tundra and subarctic forest regions.

Back to the top