What do Reindeer Get up to the Rest of the Year?
Do you ever wonder what Santa’s reindeer do for the rest of the year, when the Christmas rush is over? Santa’s reindeer have the crucial job of pulling the sleigh – which we all know is very heavy! Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and of course, Rudolph, are only employed on Christmas Eve. So, what do they get up to during the rest of the year? And how interesting are these creatures?
There’s not just one type of reindeer:
There are three types of reindeer: Norway’s Svalbard Islands Reindeer are the smallest ‘sub-species’ due to them evolving and adapting in a small roaming area in which they live and graze. Finland’s Forest Reindeer are the largest of the breeds and are built for the cold, snow and the forest. These reindeer have been introduced into the Salamäjarvi National Park due to them being hunted for years and their population being affected hugely. Finally, the Mountain Reindeer of the Arctic Tundra spread across the Northern Hemisphere, where the soil is frozen and it makes it impossible for trees to grow – these reindeer have it hard!
How cool are their antlers?
A reindeer’s antlers are made up of keratin and different proteins and because they are living tissue, they have an extended vascular system which means blood is pumped through the antlers – unlike the tusks of an elephant. Both sexes have antlers, with the males shedding theirs each winter. Female reindeer keep their antlers when they are pregnant in order for them to compete for food against other females. The horns grow directly from the skull. Usually, the fancier the antlers, the more flamboyant and domineering the reindeer. Antlers show dominance and the levels of hierarchy – a must for successful breeding and leadership of a wild herd.
They don’t all live in Rudolph’s shadow!
Don’t you sometimes feel that Santa’s reindeer steel all the limelight? Well don’t fear, reindeer around the world all have their own little reason for being on this planet. Apart from helping deliver presents, their most important job is keeping the legacy of the amazing, powerful reindeer alive. Due to reindeer being poached several hundred years ago, the population is slowly building its way back up to what it was before. Reindeer are kept in Cairngorm, Scotland, free to roam, and are welcome to the public who wish to visit. Adoption schemes are also available, so that the level of care for the reindeer doesn’t have to be compromised. Near Christmas, the tame reindeer are used as an attraction for children and also to accompany Father Christmas when he makes his visit to Scotland – putting smiles on faces, young or old.