Reindeer

Reindeer

Rangifer tarandus

See them at the Zoo

Quick Facts
Height:
Weight:
33 to 59 inches at the shoulder
Males: 240 to 460 lbs; females: 170 to 260 lbs
Distribution: Northernmost lands around the world, including Scandinavia, Greenland, Canada, Alaska, and European Russia
Habitat: Arctic tundra and woodland edges

New research has found that reindeer may be able to see ultraviolet light. This adaptation may have evolved as a way to find food sources in their habitat, which is often in white-out conditions.

Description

Reindeer are different from other deer species because their nose is covered with fur and both sexes have antlers. Antlers are made of solid living bone that grows out of small bony platforms called pedicles. No two sets of antlers are alike. Antlers are covered with velvet, a soft tissue that supplies necessary nutrients. When the antlers finish growing, the velvet dries up and is rubbed off. A new set is grown each year. Reindeer have hollow hairs that act as insulation by trapping body heat. Reindeer have permanent “snowshoes.” Flat hooves keep them on top of snow and the hooves’ sharp edges keep them upright on ice. Fatty tissue keeps the feet flexible in subzero temperatures. A reindeer’s nose is specially designed to warm the air before it reaches the lungs, which improves its sense of smell in cold weather. Like all hoofed animals, reindeer have very good hearing, although their eyesight is not very sharp.

Status in the Wild
The major threats in the wild are the effects of global warming on their habitat and habitat loss through expanding human development.

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