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A Few of the Many Cool Things about Reindeer

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There are those out there, who are still uncertain of the existence of reindeer. I assure you though, they are real; they exist. Sadly, ordinary reindeer cannot fly. That special ability appears to be only exhibited by Santa’s reindeer.

Reindeer Facts

Reindeer are another member of the deer family. Not quite as large as a moose, but bigger than a white tail. Reindeer males are often called bulls, while females are called cows and babies are calves. They may share the names with our bovine friends, but they are in no way related.

Reindeer like cold weather so they mostly live in the northernmost parts of the United States and they are widely ranged throughout Canada. They can also be found in northern Europe.

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These hooved, honies are specially adapted to live in such cold environments; with certain features that help them to thrive. One of these is their nose. It’s designed to warm the air a reindeer breathes before it reaches the lungs. It can also trap moisture from the air and condense it, which helps to keep their mucous membrane moist. They also have hollow hair that traps air, which gets warmed up by their body heat, giving them a nice layer of insulation against the cold.

A third neat feature is their hooves. A reindeer can change the texture of the pads of their feet when the seasons change. In the summer, the pads of their feet will soak up moisture from the ground. This allows them to walk easier on the softer ground. When winter comes around, those same pads will shrink up into the hooves. Then when they walk on ice and snow, they are only using the hard part of their hooves, which gives them much better traction.

Female reindeer are the only females of the 45 plus varieties of the deer family that will grow antlers. Every type of male deer adorns antlers, but their female counterparts generally have smooth heads.

Both female and male reindeer will lose their antlers. Males tend to lose them first, beginning at the first part of winter. Females tend to hang on to theirs until later in the season.

This brings up the question of the genders of Santa’s reindeer. They are always depicted with antlers, yet this time of year most males have already dropped theirs. Should Santa’s reindeer be renamed?

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Julie Antonson

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