Scientific Name: Rangifer tarandus


Habitat & Range
Native to arctic and subarctic regions, reindeer are widespread and numerous in tundra and taiga environments. Reindeer were originally found in southern parts of the United States and Europe, but today they exist primarily in northern regions such as Norway, Sweden, Finland, Siberia, Greenland, Alaska and Canada.

The most notable characteristic of the reindeer is the large antlers, which appear on both males and females. Males shed their antlers each winter and they reappear the following spring. Males are typically larger than females, standing up to 5 feet tall and weighing an average of 350 lbs. The fur color of a reindeer varies based on season and species, but is typically a shade of white to tan.

Reindeer are ruminants that feed primarily on lichens. They also eat leaves of birches and willows as well as sedges and grasses. Occasionally they will feed on small rodents, fish and bird eggs.

Reproduction & Lifespan
Mating season occurs from late September to early November, during which time males compete for access to females. Calves are born the following May or June and are not independent from their mother until autumn.

Fantastic Fact
The Most Famous Reindeer of All
Santa’s eight flying reindeer were first named in an 1823 poem “A Visit From St. Nicholas” (later named “The Night Before Christmas) written by Clement Clarke Moore. Rudolph was not added to the group until 1939.

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