You’ve heard about Dasher and Dancer, Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid, Donner and Blitzen, but with Christmas on the way, now is the perfect time to learn about who exactly Santa’s little travel buddies really are.
In North America, reindeer are often given the name caribou, as they are the same species as deer. There are two types of reindeer, tundra reindeer and forest reindeer. The tundra group migrates between the tundra and forest in herds, numbering up to half a million. They can cover as much as 5,000 km (3,000 miles).
Forest reindeer, though, are much less common. These beasts can get up to 4 feet tall, weighing up to 550 pounds! Their antlers follow close behind, with the ability to grow up to 1.4 meters long. No wonder they can pull Santa’s sleigh!
Reindeer are native to cold weather environments, most commonly found in the Arctic tundra and damp forests of Greenland, Scandinavia, Russia, Alaska and Canada.
Their lives span for up to 15 years, 20 when domesticated and have diets consisting mainly of the fungi called lichen. This is a moss-like plant that’s often found in high, open spaces. Although big in size, predators such as wolverines, bears and eagles still prey on reindeer in the wild.
Now that you know a couple more facts about Santa’s pets, make sure to leave out a carrot or two on Christmas Eve for these hard-working animals.