Reindeer Fun

The holiday season is a hectic time, with planning the perfect family celebration, shopping for gifts, decorating the house, inside and out, and mailing cards.

Many have stopped the tradition of sending holiday cards. For me, there’s something so special about peeking into the mailbox to find a card. It means someone took the time to wish you happy holidays, trekked down to the Post Office, or raised the tiny red flag on their mailbox to signal outgoing mail. It’s a beautiful tradition that I fear new generations will let slip away (along with cursive handwriting). I love the holiday season, the frigid temps thawed with magic, possibilities.

With the frenzy of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, I thought I’d share 10 fun facts about reindeer, originally posted on my blog in 2018.

1. A Reindeer By Any Other Name is Still a Reindeer

In some regions of the world, Reindeer are called caribou. In North America reindeer refers to Eurasian populations and caribou refers to wild populations

2. Reindeer Belong to the Cervidae Family

Reindeer — aka Rangifer Tarandus — have 14 subspecies, including deer, elk, moose, and wapiti. All Cervidae have antlers, hooves, and long legs.

3. Girls Can Do Everything Boys Can Do

Reindeer are the only species of deer in which both males and females grow antlers, and they grow a new set every year. Male antlers can grow up to 51 inches long and weigh up to 33 pounds. A female rack can grow up to 20 inches long.

According to the San Diego Zoo …

Antlers are the reindeer’s most memorable characteristic. In comparison to body size, reindeer have the largest and heaviest antlers of all living deer species. All antlers have a main beam and several branches or tines that grow from the frontal bones of the skull. Sometimes little branchlets or snags are also present. The tip of each antler is called a point. Unlike horns, antlers fall off and grow back larger every year.

As new antlers grow, the reindeer is said to be in velvet, because skin, blood vessels, and soft fur cover the developing antlers. When the velvet dries up, the reindeer rubs it off against rocks or trees, revealing the hardened, bony core.

 

4. Santa’s Reindeer Must be Female

Since males grow antlers in February and females in May, they both finish growing antlers at the same time. But male and female reindeer shed antlers at different times of the year. Males drop antlers in November, leaving them antler-less till the spring. Female reindeer keep antlers through the winter months. They’re shed when calves are born in May.

Thus, since Santa’s reindeer all have antlers, he must have an all-female team. ?

5. Males are From Mars, Females are From Venus

Male and female reindeer use antlers in different ways. Males wield them as weapons against potential predators. They also showcase impressive racks to woo females. Although females also war with these handy weapons, they mainly use antlers to clear snow while foraging for food.

6. Reindeer Come in a Variety of Colors

Depending on the subspecies, region, sex, and even the season, reindeer fur ranges from dark brown in woodland subspecies to nearly white in Greenland. A reindeer’s coat is dark in the summer, light in winter.

Reindeer have two coats:

  • an undercoat of fine, soft wool right next to their skin
  • a top layer of long, hollow guard hairs

The air trapped inside the guard hairs hold in body heat to keep the animal warm against wind and cold. The hollow hair help the reindeer float, which aid them in swimming. Did you know reindeer could swim?

7. Adorable Furry Hooves

A reindeer’s furry hooves give the animal an advantage when walking on frozen ground, ice, mud, or snow. Spongy footpads help them strut through marshy fields. In the winter, the hooves harden to dig into ice or snow while anchoring the reindeer from slipping.

When a reindeer swims, their broad, flat, two-toed hooves allow the animal to push water aside. They even have a dewclaw which acts as an extra hoof to assist in climbing rugged terrain.

8. The Nose Knows

A reindeer’s specialized nose helps to warm incoming cold air before it hits their lungs. Like dogs, their super sniffer can find food hidden under snow, locate danger, and recognize direction. Reindeer are the only subspecies of deer to possess a furry nose.

9. Herd Life

Reindeer hang in herds. Not only are they safer from predators but they’re social animals, chatting among themselves with snorts, grunts, and hoarse calls, especially during mating season. Calves bleat to call their mother.

Reindeer travel, feed, and rest in a herd of 10 to 100s. In the spring, reindeer may even form super herds of 50,000 to 500,000. These super herds follow food sources, traveling up to 1,000 miles during harsh winters.

10. Catch Me If You Can

During migration, reindeer cover 12–34 miles per day and can run at speeds of up to 50 mph. Even a day-old calf can outrun an Olympic sprinter!

Hope you enjoyed these reindeer facts. Which one is your favorite?

This entry was posted in #writerslife, #WritingCommunity, research, research for novels and tagged , , , , , by Sue Coletta. Bookmark the permalink.

About Sue Coletta

Sue Coletta is an award-winning crime writer and an active member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. Feedspot and Expertido.org named her Murder Blog as “Best 100 Crime Blogs on the Net.” She also blogs at the Kill Zone (Writer's Digest "101 Best Websites for Writers") and Writers Helping Writers. Sue lives with her husband in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire and writes two psychological thriller series, Mayhem Series and Grafton County Series (Tirgearr Publishing) and is the true crime/narrative nonfiction author of PRETTY EVIL NEW ENGLAND: True Stories of Violent Vixens and Murderous Matriarchs (Rowman & Littlefield Group). Currently on submission, her latest true crime project revolves around a grisly local homicide. For the spring 2022 semester, Sue will be teaching a virtual course about serial killers at EdAdvance in CT and a condensed version for the Central Virginia Chapter and National Sisters In Crime. Equally fun was when she appeared on the Emmy award-winning true crime series, Storm of Suspicion. Learn more about Sue and her books at https://suecoletta.com

28 thoughts on “Reindeer Fun

  1. Sue, I did enjoy them! Thank you. #1 does it for me.

    I went from reindeer to Bullwinkle the Moose so I may put on the Kerwood Derby watch Rocky and Bullwinkle tonight…

  2. #4, of course.

    A very happy Hanukkah to all who are celebrating this year. Nothing like turkey and latkes!

  3. Thanks for a fun, fact-filled post, Sue.

    Favorite: #10. I didn’t know that they could run so fast. But, with the distances Santa needs to cover, they need speed. Oh, you didn’t tell us how fast they could fly.

    And speaking of Santa. If his team must be all female, for their antlers, what’s poor Rudolph? I know girls named Rudi, but not Rudolph. Please don’t tell me he/she is transgender.

    Have a great week, Sue!

  4. The Christmas classic Miracle on 34th Street begins with Kris Kringle stopping to correct a man putting up a reindeer and sleigh display in a store window.

    KRIS: I’m sorry to interrupt your work…but I wanted to tell you you’re making a serious mistake.

    MAN: Huh?

    KRIS: With the reindeer, I mean. You’ve got Cupid where Blitzen should be. And Dasher should be on my right-hand side.

    MAN: He should, huh?

    KRIS: Yes. And another thing. Donner’s antlers have got four points instead of three. Still, I don’t suppose anybody would notice except myself.

    MAN: No, I don’t suppose.

    KRIS: Glad to have helped you. Bye.

  5. #4. Clement Clarke Moore must have gotten it wrong. Here’s the correct version:

    “More rapid than eagles, his coursers they came,
    And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name.
    ‘Now Margie! now Laura! now Barbara and Vicki!
    On Carol! on Patty! on Donna and Trixi!’
    To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall!
    Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”

  6. A wonderful post to begin the week! All these facts are fascinating, but #4 is my pick for most interesting

    This post reminds me of episode 3 of All Aboard, “Sleigh Ride,” which follows two Sami women as they travel in their reindeer drawn sleighs along a sort of postal route in arctic Norway, during winter, when the sun never quite clears the horizon.

    Thanks for another fun, fact-filled post, Sue! Have a wonderful day.

    • Thanks, Dale. I didn’t want to post anything too heavy for the Monday following a holiday weekend.

      “Sleigh Ride” sounds wonderful! I’ll have to look it up. Wishing you a wonderful day, too!

  7. We have lots of deer and caribou around my house. They’re NOT the friendly Santa kind. They also pop up in the strangest places around my town. But I’m sure no matter what – they would taste the same.

    • *facepalm* The thought of reindeer ending up on a table… I can’t, I just can’t.

      Ben, I have friends who lived in Colorado and they said caribou were everywhere, popping up in the strangest places like “your” caribou. Maybe they have Canadian kin. LOL

  8. Good to know, Sue! I never know what I’ll learn at TKZ, but since I have a love affair with learning “stuff”, it doesn’t matter to me. Bring it on… 🙂

    Now, to fit my new-found knowledge into a story . . . maybe a hit put out on Santa, ably defended by his all-female runners. Hmm . . . might work!

    Thanks, Sue, and happy Monday to you.

    • Haha. Love the story idea, Deb!

      Like you, I have a longstanding love affair with learning just about anything. Need to keep the ol’ brain muscle in shape. 🙂

  9. Like you and Deb, I love to learn ‘stuff’ and this certainly qualifies! Not sure I’ll use it, but maybe one of the facts will come up on Jeopardy and I can impress everyone. And what a neat idea for a blog post!

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