Rudolph Is Female, and Other Crazy Reindeer Facts

Reindeer travel 3K miles a year—not including flights
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 22, 2009 12:50 PM CST
Rudolph Is Female, and Other Crazy Reindeer Facts
Reindeer hoof it through runners on Fourth Avenue in Anchorage, Alaska during the annual "Running of the Reindeer."    (AP Photo/Anchorage Daily News, Bill Roth)

Climate change is blamed for a drop of nearly 60% in reindeer numbers in recent decades and scientists warn that Arctic ecosystems are likely to suffer as a result. LiveScience lists other surprising—and less depressing—facts about St. Nick's beasts of burden.

  • They're actually caribou. Caribou and reindeer are the same species. The term "reindeer" generally refers to domesticated caribou in Scandinavia and Siberia that are herded and used to pull sleds.

  • Though they're slow walkers, they can run at speeds of up to 48 mph.
  • They're champion travelers. Caribou trek up to 3,000 miles a year, more than any other land mammal.
  • They're built for cold. Hollow hairs that trap air keep the herds warm while grazing on the tundra.
  • Rudolph, Blitzen, and the rest of the gang are female. Male reindeer lose their antlers by December, meaning the team pulling Santa's sleigh is all-female, if the sightings are to be believed.
(Read more reindeer stories.)

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