Reindeer are members of the deer (cervid) family whose natural habitat is the far northern arctic regions of Europe, Asia and North America. The reindeer is one of the oldest domesticated livestock having been used for food, clothing and transportation.
Reindeer remain one of the few domesticated deer to this day.
Reindeer are uniquely engineered for the cold climate they live in:
* They have a fur coat with hollow, tubular hairs for insulation from the cold. They can actually lie down in the snow without melting it! The hollow fur also helps them with buoyancy which makes them great swimmers. Underneath the hollow fur is a very dense, wooly coat for additional protection from the cold. There are about 5,000 hollow hairs and 13,000 wooly hairs per square inch! Their coats range from almost white to a dark brown, and there are even pinto (brown and white) reindeer.
* Their ears are small and very wooly and they even have fur on their noses.
* Their chests are covered with a white “mane” that protects them when they run through the snow.
* They have hooves divided in half that form an almost complete circle. This helps them walk on the snow. Beside the hooves are small “cleats” that act like snow tires to give the reindeer traction when running in the snow.
* Reindeer are the only deer where both males (bulls) and females (cows) have antlers. The males shed their antlers by mid-December when breeding season ends. The females hold theirs until spring when their babies (calves) are born.
* Each year, from the time they are a few days old until they die, reindeer grow a new set of antlers: Antlers are the fastest growing tissue on the planet!