- The name Reindeer applies to a variety of deer native to a specific, and rather harsh, section of the world.
- Interestingly, individuals of this impressive species often vary much more widely in color and size than most animals.
- In addition to the simple facts of its beauty, one fact sets this creature apart from all other known animals.
- In a unique adaptation to the climate in which it evolved, reindeer remain the only known mammals capable of seeing ultraviolet light.
- Though still numerous, its numbers appear to be in decline. The primary reason for this seems to be climate change.
Reindeer Physical Description
The color of the fur of the Reindeer varies considerably, both in individuals and with the season. Its coloring ranges from off-white to a dark brown or sometimes mottled.
In addition, contrary to popular belief, both sexes develop antlers. However, the antlers of the female generally stay significantly smaller than those of the males.
Yet overall, the antlers of this beautiful ruminant average up to 39 in (100 cm) in length and 53 in (135 cm) in beam width.
The males grow larger than the females and will average roughly 7 ft(2.13 m) in length, and weigh an average of 400 lb (182 kg). A few rare males sometimes attain a weight of as much as 700 lb (318 kg).
Typically, an adult also stands an average of 59 in (150 cm) tall at the shoulder.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Mammalia
- Order: Artiodactyla
- Family: Cervidae
- Genus: Rangifer
- Species: R. tarandus
Reindeer Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
The powerful and majestic Reindeer evolved as native to the Arctic and subarctic regions of the world.
However, the animal migrates within its region of habitation, which includes much of the tundra regions of the Northern Hemisphere. This range once extended much further south than it does today.
Being a large ruminant, the Reindeer primarily feeds upon lichens, reindeer moss, grasses, sedges, and the leaves of willows and birches.
The antlers of this animal grow the second largest of any species of deer. In this, they rank as second only to the moose.
The mammal represents the only member of the deer family in which the females also grow antlers.