REINDEER (Rangifer tarandus)
Pronounced: Rayn-ji-fer tayr-an-dus Order: Cetartiodactyla
Kingdom: Animalia Family: Cervidae
Phylum: Chordata Genus: Rangifer
Class: Mammalia Species: Tarandus


Found in the tundra and taiga zones of North America, Siberia and Europe, reindeer, also called caribou, are plentiful, however wild populations are scattered and more sparse than domesticated ones. Wild European Russia populations are small and declining.

Males can weigh 250 kg (550 pounds) and stand 1.5 m tall at the shoulder. Their antlers can grow up to 1.4 m tall. Females are slightly smaller and also grow antlers, but not nearly as large. They shed them once a year and grow new ones.

They are the only mammal known to see UV light, a benefit for two reasons. Their favourite food, reindeer lichen, absorbs and then glows with UV light, so it is easier to find. And their main predator, wolves, have fur that also absorbs and then glows with UV light, so they are easier to spot and avoid.

Mothers have one baby at a time, which she nurses for 6 months. At about a month old it starts to also eat plants. Some reindeer live in family groups of up to 13 individuals. They are brown in the summer and turn grey or white in the winter. Their insulating fur helps keep them afloat when swimming and helps them stay warm, whether they are wet or dry.

Reindeer eat ferns, mosses, lichens, grasses and leaves. Its habitat is the arctic and subarctic, but it ranges from open woodlands to arctic tundra to mountainsides. They travel long distances, up to 5000 km (3000 miles) per year. In addition to running up to 80 km/hr (48 mph), Reindeer are also excellent swimmers. Scientists are studying the regenerative properties of deer antlers to see how they can regrow each year.


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