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5 Fun Facts About Reindeer

Dec 14, 2016

Reindeer are a staple of the Christmas season. They’re as well-loved as Santa Claus himself. These powerful creatures are often seen pulling Santa's sleigh -- and they are just as fascinating in everyday life as they are in our favorite Christmas carols! Below are five fun facts about the season's most enchanting animals.

1. Real-life reindeer have been herded in the sub-arctic for years. Nomadic herders in the northern parts of Russia guide them through the mountain passes, keep them together in snowstorms, and help them traverse frozen lakes with ice so thick you can drive a truck on it.

2. In blizzards, some reindeer make a clicking noise. This way, the herd can stay together, even if the snow is so thick that they can't actually see each other. However, they don't make the sound with their mouths… they click with their knees!

3. In many parts of the world, reindeer are called caribou. This name is actually of French origin, and it means “snow shoveler.” The traditional “reindeer” name comes from the Norse language, and it is simply derived from an old-world word for “deer.” Contrary to what you might expect, the word is not inspired by the reins used to guide a sled -- though Russian herders do use reindeer-led sleds to pull them and their gear across the frozen landscape.

4. Reindeer are extremely well-adapted to cold weather. For example, their bodies actually warm the air they breathe before it makes it to their lungs, so it's easier to breathe freezing air on the run. Their hooves also adapt to the frozen ground by shrinking during the winter months.

5. Though popular culture often depicts female reindeer without antlers, like whitetail deer, both genders can grow antlers. These can be huge, towering higher and wider than you'd see on even the largest whitetail.

Whether they're pulling Santa’s sleigh, spotted in the wild, or relaxing on our farm, reindeer are more than seasonal icons… they are a truly elegant and unique species. Come see our resident reindeer before they take off this Christmas Eve!