The reindeer is a majestic animal that inhabits the frozen arctic
tundra. It has adapted remarkably to a harsh,barren habitat where
food is scarce much of the year. It is an excellent swimmer. Aided by a
thick coat that traps air and gives good buoyancy in the water, it can
easily swim across wide rivers.
The reindeer inhabits the bleak arctic plain or tundra, and the
surrounding forest and mountain areas. Within this harsh and freezing-cold
environment, reindeer live together in herds.The smallest herd may contain 20
animals, while the largest may contain thousands. The herd is almost constantly
on the move.
The reindeer mates sometime between August and November, depending on location,
but mostly in October. This is known as the rutting season, and the male becomes
very aggressive, fighting with other males as he competes to win control of a harem
of 5 to 15 females.
As the time approaches to give birth, the female leaves the herd and chooses a
secluded spot. She usually returns to the same spot each year to calve, or bear
young. The calf is born between late May and early June, when the herd is at the
summer grazing grounds. It weighs 11 - 20 pounds and can stand within minutes after
being born. It suckles until it is five to six months old.Unlike many baby deer,
the reindeer fawn's coat is not marked with camouflaging spots. Becasue they are
born in early summer, the calves have enough time to feed and grow strong before
the Fall migration, when predators are most likely to attack.The calf's antlers
begin to grow when the animal is a year old.
The reindeer is a plant eater and eats a wide variety of vegetation. The mainstay
of its diet are the lichens and tough grass that grows on the tundra. In the spring,
the reindeer will graze the newly sprouted shoots of grass and shrubs. The green
leaves of birches and willows are eaten at the summer grazing grounds.During the
harsh winter months, the reindeer has a difficult time finding enough to eat. It
will dig holes in the snow several feet deep to get to the lichens and moss
underneath. At the same time, it feeds on the twigs of any shrubs it finds under
or above the snow.
The reinder is a valuable and important animal to the nomadic tribes of the arctic
regions, especially the Lapps.It is the only deer that can be domesticated. It
provides butter, meat, cheese, clothing, and transportation. Its antlers and bones
are used to make tools and utensils, and the tough sinews in its legs are used to
make thread. The reindeer's range has decreased dramatically due to extensive
hunting and the destruction of its natural habitat by man. The building of hydro
electric power plants has caused rivers to be diverted and large dams to be
constructed in Canada and Siberia. The alteration of the natural landscape
obstructs reindeer migration routes and causes thousands to drown.
||Length: 48-86 in.|
||Weight: 200-600 lbs.|
||Sexual maturity: 29-41 months|
||Mating: August to November|
||Gestation: About 8 months|
||Number of young: Usually 1|
|Habit: Sociable.Herds may number several
||Diet: Lichens, mosses,grasses|
||Lifespan: 12-15 years|
||Number of young: Usually 1|
| DID YOU KNOW?
- The reindeer is the only species of deer in which the
female has horns-perhaps to help her compete for scarce
- A day-old reindeer calf can outrun a man.
- Male reindeer have inflatable pouches of skin under
their throats. This amplifies the roar during the rutting
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