Rangifer tarandus


Quick Facts
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

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
Listed as “vulnerable" on the IUCN Red List (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources)


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