5 Things You Probably Don’t Know About Reindeer
I don’t know about you, but I don’t give reindeer a millisecond of thought until I start singing about Rudolph. However, this is Rudolph time and I found an incredibly fascinating fact about reindeer two years ago that has stuck in my mind. So I looked up a few more and now you have a handful of interesting tidbits that will make you look really smart when you insert them into your next holiday gathering. If you add information from last year’s post about professional Santas, you’ll be a veritable treasure trove of Christmas lore. You’re welcome.
Just like human fingerprints, no two antlers are alike. Both male and female reindeer have antlers. Females shed their antlers in the summer, males in early December. Since Santa’s reindeer have antlers, it’s likely they are females.
Antlers are rubbery, only hardening when full grown. Full-sized antlers on males can be three feet long.
Reindeer noses warm the air before the animals breathe it into their lungs. The warm air is wetter so it also keeps the reindeer’s nose nice and moist. I was unable to find out if reindeer could develop head colds but, with these noses, I’m thinking probably not.
Some subspecies of reindeer have knees that make a clicking noise while they walk. The sound helps them stay together when they can’t see each other in a blizzard. ( Isn’t this a great excuse? If your knees click when you walk, you can now be the envy of all your friends.)
There are some subspecies of reindeer that travel over 3,100 miles per year, averaging 23 miles a day. This is a longer distance than any other migrating land mammal.
At top speed, these reindeer travel 80 kms (50 miles) per hour. Even a day-old reindeer calf can outrun an Olympic sprinter. Reindeer are also strong swimmers. They can swim four to six miles in an hour.
If they ever start riding bicycles, they’re going to sweep all of the triathlon awards. Just saying.
#1 The Reindeer Fact That’s Stuck in My Brain
“Reindeer herds run anti-clockwise. Always. Except when they are out of control. A clockwise running herd is disturbed and dangerous.” – On Trying to Keep Still by Jenny Diski (2006)
The sentence that prefaced the above quote was, “Here’s a bit of traditional knowledge you might find useful one day.” Thanks, Ms. Diski, I did.