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5 Fun Facts About December’s Favorite Animal – The Reindeer

Dec 20, 2022 | All About Animals, Holidays


5 Fun Reindeer Facts

If you’re a fan of Rudolph, you’re probably also a fan of reindeer. But do you know where reindeer live? Or how reindeer adapt to their environment? How about their diet – what do reindeer eat? This blog post will answer questions about these amazing animals with five fun reindeer facts!


  1. What’s the difference between reindeer vs caribou? When it comes to reindeer vs caribou, in general, they are the same animals. Yes, it’s true! While both animals share the same scientific name (Rangifer tarandus), they’re referred to differently depending on where they live. In North America, male and female reindeer are usually called “caribou.” In Europe and Asia, they are known as reindeer. Both males and females grow antlers.
  2. Where do reindeer live? Everyone knows reindeer live in the north, but where exactly? Reindeer love cold climates, so they live in the Arctic Circle and northern states and countries with colder temperatures. Reindeer are also found in Russia, Norway, Sweden, and Finland. In Alaska, there are more reindeer than people!
  3. What do reindeer eat? Reindeer are herbivores and can eat up to 20 pounds of lichen, moss, and grass in one day! Reindeer are also ruminants, meaning they have a four-chambered stomach which allows them to gather a lot of food at once, then chew and digest it later. 
  4. Reindeer hooves adapt to the season, expanding in the summer and contracting in the winter. In the summer, their fur-covered hooves help them to grip ice and rocks. In winter, they use their hooves to dig through snow to find food buried underneath. The shape of a reindeer’s foot has also adapted over time – instead of being flat, it has evolved into something more like an inverted human hand with five toes to help them grip slippery surfaces better.
  5. Reindeer have amazing eyesight. Reindeer can see in the dark because of a reflective layer in the eye. This layer reflects light back onto the retina, creating a night vision effect. Reindeer are also able to see long distances and details up close. They have excellent color vision and can detect ultraviolet light, which helps them find food during winter when it’s difficult to spot sources like lichen and moss that reflect UV rays. They also have very good hearing, allowing them to detect predators approaching from a distance before humans or other animals see them!


As you can see, reindeer are amazing creatures! Of course, domesticated reindeer have been around since the Bronze and Iron Ages, but we still have no direct scientific evidence of flight abilities. But that’s ok. We believe!


Want to see real reindeer in Arizona? Gather up the family and kids for a trip up north to The Grand Canyon Deer Farm where you can see all sorts of animals up close—including reindeer. All the deer are domesticated, so they can be hand-fed special food. Happy memory making!

Disclaimer: Not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding the medical condition of your pet. If you think your pet has a medical emergency, call or visit your veterinarian or your local veterinary emergency hospital immediately.