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6 fun facts about reindeer

Posted by / December 22, 2012


Often we don’t seriously consider the impact of huge events like climate change until its effects hit close to home, whether it be the possibility of bacon disappearing or Dasher and Dancer suddenly finding themselves a lot lonelier in the formerly frosty area we once considered the neighborhood of the North Pole.

Unfortunately, the reindeer population has plummeted sixty percent in recent decades, which probably means a few more names have been added to Santa’s naughty list and could be getting coal for their carbon footprint.

For the sake of the big guy’s transportation needs, then, perhaps we should take some time to learn more about our fuzzy, hardworking friends with some help from Jeanna Bryner at LiveScience.

They’re actually caribou

Reindeer and Caribou are two names for the same species (Rangifer tarandus), with reindeer generally referring to the domesticated variety that are herded by humans and pull sleds. Such reindeer live mostly in Scandinavia and Siberia and are typically smaller with shorter legs than their wild caribou relatives. In Siberia, caribou are called “wild” reindeer. The animal’s size and weight varies by gender and age, with adult caribou reaching 3 to 4 feet tall (about 1 meter) and weighing on average up to 375 pounds (170 kg) for males and 200 pounds (90 kg) for females.

They get around

Caribou are known to travel up to 3,000 miles (nearly 5,000 km) in a year, the longest documented movements of any terrestrial mammal, according to the IUCN. Their counterpart in the water, the humpback whale, holds the record for the longest mammalian voyage, swimming 5,000 miles (8,000 km) to their balmy breeding grounds in winter.

Full story at LiveScience.

More about animals.

Photo credit: Fotolia

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