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Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Cervidae
Subfamily: Capreolinae
Genus: Rangifer
C.H. Smith, 1827
Species: R. tarandus
Binomial name
Rangifer tarandus
(Linnaeus, 1758)

7 sp., 2 extinct, see text

The reindeer (Rangifer tarandus), also known as the caribou when wild in North America, is an Arctic and Subarctic-dwelling deer, widespread and numerous across the Arctic and Subarctic.


Distribution and habitat

Large male reindeer

The reindeer is a widespread and numerous species in the northern Holarctic. Originally, the reindeer was found in Scandinavia, eastern Europe, Russia, Mongolia, and northern China north of the 50th latitude. In North America, it was found in Canada, Alaska (USA), and the northern conterminous USA from Washington to Maine. In the 19th century, it was apparently still present in southern Idaho. It also occurred naturally on Sakhalin, Greenland, and probably even in historical times in Ireland. During the late Pleistocene era, reindeer were found as far south as Nevada and Tennessee in North America and Spain in Europe.[2][3] Today, wild reindeer have disappeared from many areas within this large historical range, especially from the southern parts, where it vanished almost everywhere. Large populations of wild reindeer are still found in Norway, Siberia, Greenland, Alaska, and Canada.

Domesticated reindeer are mostly found in northern Fennoscandia and Russia, with a herd of approximately 50 reindeer living around the Cairngorms region in Scotland. The last remaining wild tundra reindeer in Europe are found in portions of southern Norway.[4] The southern boundary of the species' natural range is approximately at 62° north latitude.

Southern-most reindeer: a South Georgian reindeer with velvet-covered antlers

A few reindeer from Norway were introduced to the South Atlantic island of South Georgia in the beginning of the 20th century. Today, there are two distinct herds still thriving there, permanently separated by glaciers. Their total numbers are no more than a few thousand. The flag and the coat of arms of the territory contain an image of a reindeer. Around 4000 reindeer have been introduced into the French sub-Antarctic archipelago of Kerguelen Islands. East Iceland has a small herd of about 4000-5000 animals.[citation needed]

Caribou and reindeer numbers have fluctuated historically, but many herds are in decline across their range.[5] This global decline is linked to climate change for northern, migratory caribou and reindeer herds and industrial disturbance of caribou habitat for sedentary, non-migratory herds.[6]

Biology and behavior

Reindeer antlers grow again each year under a layer of fur called velvet. This reindeer is losing the velvet layer on one of its antlers.


The female varies in weight between 60 and 170 kg (130 and 370 lb) and measures 162–205 cm (64–81 in) long. The male (or "bull") is typically larger (although the extent to which varies in the different subspecies), weighing 100–318 kg (220–700 lb) and measuring 180–214 cm (71–84 in) in head-and-body length.[7] Shoulder height can measure from 80–150 cm (31–59 in), and the tail adds 14–20 cm (5.5–7.9 in).[8] Both sexes grow antlers,[9] which (in the Scandinavian variety) for old males fall off in December, for young males in the early spring, and for females in the summer. The antlers typically have two separate groups of points (see image), a lower and upper. Domesticated reindeer are shorter-legged and heavier than their wild counterparts. The bull reindeer's antlers are the second largest of any extant deer, after the moose, and can range up to 100 cm (39 in) in width and 135 cm (53 in) in beam length. They have the largest antlers relative to body size among deer.[10]

Reindeer have specialized noses featuring nasal turbinate bones that dramatically increase the surface area within the nostrils. Incoming cold air is warmed by the animal's body heat before entering the lungs, and water is condensed from the expired air and captured before the deer's breath is exhaled, used to moisten dry incoming air and possibly absorbed into the blood through the mucous membranes.

Reindeer hooves adapt to the season: in the summer, when the tundra is soft and wet, the footpads become sponge-like and provide extra traction. In the winter, the pads shrink and tighten, exposing the rim of the hoof, which cuts into the ice and crusted snow to keep it from slipping. This also enables them to dig down (an activity known as "cratering")[11][12] through the snow to their favorite food, a lichen known as reindeer moss. The knees of many species of reindeer are adapted to produce a clicking sound as they walk.

The reindeer coat has two layers of fur, a dense woolly undercoat and longer-haired overcoat consisting of hollow, air-filled hairs.


Herd of barren-ground Caribou on the Thelon River
Caribou licking salt from roadway in British Columbia
Caribou using antlers

Reindeer are ruminants, having a four-chambered stomach. They mainly eat lichens in winter, especially reindeer moss. However, they also eat the leaves of willows and birches, as well as sedges and grasses. There is some evidence to suggest that on occasion, they will also feed on lemmings,[13] arctic char, and bird eggs.[14] Reindeer herded by the Chukchis have been known to devour mushrooms enthusiastically in late summer.[15]


Mating occurs from late September to early November. Males battle for access to females. Two males will lock each other's antlers together and try to push each other away. The most dominant males can collect as many as 15-20 females to mate with. A male will stop eating during this time and lose much of its body reserves.

Calves may be born the following May or June. After 45 days, the calves are able to graze and forage but continue suckling until the following fall and become independent from their mothers.


The reindeer travels the furthest of any terrestrial mammal, traveling up to 5,000 km (3,100 mi) a year, although in Europe the animal does not migrate as far, and covering 1,000,000 km2 (390,000 sq mi).[16] Normally travelling about 19–55 km (12–34 mi) a day while migrating, the caribou can run at speeds of 60–80 km/h (37–50 mph). During the spring migration smaller herds will group together to form larger herds of 50,000 to 500,000 animals but during autumn migrations, the groups become smaller, and the reindeer begin to mate. During the winter, reindeer travel to forested areas to forage under the snow. By spring, groups leave their winter grounds to go to the calving grounds. A reindeer can swim easily and quickly, normally at 6.5 km/h (4.0 mph) but if necessary at 10 km/h (6.2 mph), and migrating herds will not hesitate to swim across a large lake or broad river.[17]


There are a variety of predators that prey heavily on reindeer. Golden Eagles prey on calves and are the most prolific hunter on calving grounds.[18] Wolverine will take newborn calves or birthing cows, as well as (less commonly) infirm adults. Brown Bears and (in the rare cases where they encounter each other) Polar bears prey on reindeer of all ages but (as with the wolverine) are most likely to attack weaker animals such as calves and sick deer. The Gray Wolf is the most effective natural predator of adult reindeer, especially during the winter. As carrion, caribou are fed on by foxes, ravens and hawks. Blood-sucking insects, such as black flies and mosquitoes, are a plague to reindeer during the summer and can cause enough stress to inhibit feeding and calving behaviors.[19] In one case, the entire body of a reindeer was found in a Greenland shark, the only shark typically found near the North Pole.[20] The population numbers of some of these predators is influenced by the migration of reindeer. During the Ice Ages, they faced Dire wolves, Cave lions, American lions, Short-faced bears, Cave hyenas, Smilodons, Jaguars, Cougars, and possibly the ground sloth[citation needed].

Reindeer and humans


Reindeer hunting by humans has a very long history, and caribou/wild reindeer "may well be the species of single greatest importance in the entire anthropological literature on hunting."[21]

Humans started hunting reindeer in the Mesolithic and Neolithic periods, and humans are today the main predator in many areas. Norway and Greenland have unbroken traditions of hunting wild reindeer from the ice age until the present day. In the non-forested mountains of central Norway, such as Jotunheimen, it is still possible to find remains of stone-built trapping pits, guiding fences, and bow rests, built especially for hunting reindeer. These can, with some certainty, be dated to the Migration Period, although it is not unlikely that they have been in use since the Stone Age.

Norway is now preparing to apply for nomination as a World Heritage Site for areas with traces and traditions of reindeer hunting in Dovrefjell-Sunndalsfjella National Park, Reinheimen National Park and Rondane National Park in Central Sør-Norge (Southern Norway). There is in these parts of Norway an unbroken tradition of reindeer hunting from posglacial stone age until today.

Wild caribou are still hunted in North America and Greenland. In the traditional lifestyle of the Inuit people, Northern First Nations people, Alaska Natives, and the Kalaallit of Greenland, the caribou is an important source of food, clothing, shelter, and tools. Many Gwichʼin people, who depend on the Porcupine caribou, still follow traditional caribou management practices that include a prohibition against selling caribou meat and limits on the number of caribou to be taken per hunting trip.[22]

The blood of the caribou was supposedly mixed with alcohol as drink by hunters and loggers in colonial Quebec to counter the cold. This drink is now enjoyed without the blood as a wine and whiskey drink known as Caribou.[23][24]

Reindeer husbandry

A reindeer sled, Arkhangelsk, Russia. Late nineteenth-century photochrom.
Milking reindeer in the 19th century
Reindeer fur coat

Reindeer have been herded for centuries by several Arctic and Subarctic people including the Sami and the Nenets. They are raised for their meat, hides, antlers and, to a lesser extent, for milk and transportation. Reindeer are not considered fully domesticated, as they generally roam free on pasture grounds. In traditional nomadic herding, reindeer herders migrate with their herds between coast and inland areas according to an annual migration route, and herds are keenly tended. However, reindeer have never been bred in captivity, though they were tamed for milking as well as for use as draught animals or beasts of burden.

The use of reindeer as semi-domesticated livestock in Alaska was introduced in the late 1800s by Sheldon Jackson as a means of providing a livelihood for Native peoples there. Reindeer were imported first from Siberia, and later also from Norway. A regular mail run in Wales, Alaska, used a sleigh drawn by reindeer. In Alaska, reindeer herders use satellite telemetry to track their herds, using online maps and databases to chart the herd's progress.


The reindeer has (or has had) an important economic role for all circumpolar peoples, including the Saami, Nenets, Khants, Evenks, Yukaghirs, Chukchi, and Koryaks in Eurasia. It is believed that domestication started between the Bronze and Iron Ages. Siberian deer owners also use the reindeer to ride on (Siberian reindeer are larger than their Scandinavian relatives). For breeders, a single owner may own hundreds or even thousands of animals. The numbers of Russian herders have been drastically reduced since the fall of the Soviet Union. The fur and meat is sold, which is an important source of income. Reindeer were introduced into Alaska near the end of the 19th century; they interbreed with native caribou subspecies there. Reindeer herders on the Seward Peninsula have experienced significant losses to their herds from animals (such as wolves) following the wild caribou during their migrations.

Reindeer meat is popular in the Scandinavian countries. Reindeer meatballs are sold canned. Sautéed reindeer is the best-known dish in Lapland. In Alaska and Finland, reindeer sausage is sold in supermarkets and grocery stores. Reindeer meat is very tender and lean. It can be prepared fresh, but also dried, salted, hot- and cold-smoked. In addition to meat, almost all internal organs of reindeer can be eaten, some being traditional dishes.[25]

Reindeer antler is powdered and sold as an aphrodisiac, nutritional or medicinal supplement to Asian markets.

Caribou have been a major source of subsistence for Canadian Inuit.

In history

Both Aristotle and Theophrastus have short accounts - probably based on the same source - of an ox-sized deer species, named tarandos, living in the land of the Bodines in Scythia, which was able to change the colour of its fur to obtain camouflage. The latter is probably a misunderstanding of the seasonal change in reindeer fur colour. The descriptions have been interpreted as being of reindeer living in the southern Ural Mountains at c. 350 BC[26]

A deer-like animal described by Julius Caesar in his Commentarii de Bello Gallico (chapter 6.26) from the Hercynian Forest in the year 53 BC is most certainly to be interpreted as reindeer:[27][26]

There is an ox shaped like a stag. In the middle of its forehead a single horn grows between its ears, taller and straighter than the animal horns with which we are familiar. At the top this horn spreads out like the palm of a hand or the branches of a tree. The females are of the same form as the males, and their horns are the same shape and size.

According to Olaus Magnus's Historia de Gentibus Septentrionalibus - printed in Rome in 1555 - Gustav I of Sweden sent 10 reindeer to Albert I, Duke of Prussia, in the year 1533. It may be these animals that Conrad Gessner had seen or heard of.

Name etymology

The name rangifer, which Linnaeus chose as the name for the reindeer genus, was used by Albertus Magnus in his De animalibus, fol. Liber 22, Cap. 268: "Dicitur Rangyfer quasi ramifer". This word may go back to a Saami word raingo[26]. For the origin of the word tarandus, which Linnaeus chose as the name for the species epithet, he made reference to Ulisse Aldrovandi's Quadrupedum omnium bisulcorum historia fol. 859—863, Cap. 30: De Tarando (1621). However, Aldrovandi - and before him Konrad Gesner[28] - thought that rangifer and tarandus were two separate animals[29]. In any case, the tarandos name goes back to Aristotle and Theophrastus - see above.

Local names

The name rein (-deer) is of Norse origin (Old Norse hreinn, which again goes back to Proto-Germanic hraina and Proto-Indo-European kroino meaning "horned animal"). In Finnish the reindeer is known as poro and in Sami poatsu (in Northern Sami boazu, in Southern Sami bovtse, in Lule Sami boatsoj). The name caribou comes, through French, from Mi'kmaq qalipu, meaning "snow shoveler", referring to its habit of pawing through the snow for food.[30] In Inuktitut, the caribou is known by the name tuttuk (Labrador dialect). In Cree-Montagnais-Naskapi dialects the caribou is called atihkw.


The characteristic reindeer in Svalbard

Since 1961, reindeer have been divided into two major groups, the tundra reindeer with six subspecies and the woodland reindeer with three subspecies. Among the tundra subspecies are three small-bodied, high-Arctic island forms. These island subspecies are probably not closely related, since the Svalbard Reindeer seems to have evolved from large European Reindeer, whereas Peary Caribou and the extinct Arctic Reindeer are closely related and probably evolved in high-Arctic North America.[31]

Tundra reindeer

  • Arctic Reindeer (R. tarandus eogroenlandicus), an extinct subspecies found until 1900 in eastern Greenland.
  • Peary Caribou (R. tarandus pearyi), found in the northern islands of the Nunavut and the Northwest Territories of Canada.
  • Svalbard Reindeer (R. tarandus platyrhynchus), found on the Svalbard islands of Norway, is the smallest subspecies of reindeer.
  • Mountain/Wild Reindeer (R. tarandus tarandus), found in the Arctic tundra of Eurasia, including the Fennoscandia peninsula of northern Europe.
  • Porcupine Caribou, or Grant's Caribou (R. tarandus granti) which are found in Alaska, the Yukon, and the Northwest Territories of Canada.
Approximate range of caribou subspecies in North America. Overlap is possible for contiguous range. Subspecies groenlandicus and pearyi mix on some arctic islands.
  • Barren-ground Caribou (R. tarandus groenlandicus), found in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories of Canada and in western Greenland.

Woodland reindeer

  • Finnish Forest Reindeer (R. tarandus fennicus), found in the wild in only two areas of the Fennoscandia peninsula of Northern Europe, in Finnish/Russian Karelia, and a small population in central south Finland. The Karelia population reaches far into Russia, however, so far that it remains an open question whether reindeer further to the east are R. t. fennicus as well.
  • Woodland Caribou (R. tarandus caribou), or Forest Caribou, once found in the North American taiga (boreal forest) from Alaska to Newfoundland and Labrador and as far south as New England, Idaho, and Washington. Woodland Caribou have disappeared from most of their original southern range and are considered threatened where they remain, with the notable exception of the Migratory Woodland Caribou of northern Quebec and Labrador, Canada. The name of the Cariboo district of central British Columbia relates to their once-large numbers there, but they have almost vanished from that area in the last century. A herd is protected in the Caribou Mountains in Alberta.
  • Queen Charlotte Islands Caribou (R. tarandus dawsoni) from the Queen Charlotte Islands was believed to represent a distinct subspecies. It became extinct at the beginning of the 20th century. However, recent DNA analysis from mitochondrial DNA of the remains from those reindeer suggest that the animals from the Queen Charlotte Islands were not genetically distinct from the Canadian mainland reindeer subspecies.[32]

Reindeer in Christmas

Two Scottish reindeer relax after pulling Santa's sleigh at the switching on of Christmas lights

Santa Claus's reindeer

In the Santa Claus myth, Santa Claus's sleigh is pulled by flying reindeer. These were first named in the 1823 poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas", where they are called Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Dunder, and Blixem.[33] Dunder was later changed to Donder and—in other works—Donner (in German, "thunder"), and Blixem was later changed to Bliksem, then Blitzen (German for "lightning"). Some consider Rudolph as part of the group as well, though he was not part of the original named work referenced previously. Rudolph was added by Robert L. May in 1939 as "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer".

Heraldry and symbols

Several Norwegian municipalities have one or more reindeer depicted in their coats-of-arms: Eidfjord, Porsanger, Rendalen, Tromsø, Vadsø, and Vågå. The historic province of Västerbotten in Sweden has a reindeer in its coat of arms. The present Västerbotten County has very different borders and uses the reindeer combined with other symbols in its coat-of-arms. The city of Piteå also has a reindeer. The logo for Umeå University features three reindeer.

The Canadian quarter features a depiction of a caribou on one face. The caribou is the official provincial animal of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, and appears on the coat of arms of Nunavut. A caribou statue was erected at the center of the Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial, marking the spot in France where hundreds of soldiers from Newfoundland were killed and wounded in the First World War.

Two municipalities in Finland have reindeer motifs in their coats-of-arms: Kuusamo[34] has a running reindeer and Inari[35] a fish with reindeer antlers.


  1. ^ Deer Specialist Group (2008). Rangifer tarandus. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. Retrieved on 01 December 2008.
  2. ^ Ronald M. Nowak: Walker's Mammals of the World. Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999 ISBN 0-8018-5789-9
  3. ^ Sommer R. S. and Nadachowski A.: Glacial refugia of mammals in Europe: evidence from fossil records. Mammal Rev. 2006, Volume 36, No. 4, 251-265.
  4. ^ Europe's last wild reindeer herds in peril
  5. ^ BBC Earth News-Reindeer herds in global decline
  6. ^ Vors & Boyce. Global declines of caribou and reindeer. Global Change Biology Volume 15 Issue 11, Pages 2626 - 2633, Published Online: 9 May 2009
  7. ^ Caribou at the Alaska Department of Fish & Game
  8. ^ Reindeer at
  9. ^ "Reindeer / Caribou". US National Parks Service. Archived from the original on 2008-02-15. Retrieved 2009-10-01. 
  10. ^ New World Deer (Capriolinae)
  11. ^ "In the winter, the fleshy pads on these toes grow longer and form a tough, hornlike rim. Caribou use these large, sharp-edged hooves to dig through the snow and uncover the lichens that sustain them in winter months. Biologists call this activity "cratering" because of the crater-like cavity the caribou’s hooves leave in the snow." All About Caribou - Project Caribou
  12. ^ Image of reindeer cratering in snow.
  13. ^ Field & Stream - Dream Hunts: Caribou on the Move
  14. ^ Terrestrial Mammals of Nunavut by Ingrid Anand-Wheeler. ISBN 1-55325-035-4.
  15. ^ The Sun, the Moon and Firmament in Chukchi Mythology and on the Relations of Celestial Bodies and Sacrifice by Ülo Siimets at 140
  16. ^ Caribou Migration Monitoring by Satellite Telemetry
  17. ^ Rangifer tarandus at the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
  18. ^ Eagles filmed hunting reindeer
  19. ^ Caribou Foes: Natural Predators in the Wilderness
  20. ^ Greenland Shark (Somniosus microcephalus)
  21. ^ "In North America and Eurasia the species has long been an important resource--in many areas the most important resource--for peoples inhabiting the northern boreal forest and tundra regions. Known human dependence on caribou/wild reindeer has a long history, beginning in the Middle Pleistocene (Banfield 1961:170; Kurtén 1968:170) and continuing to the present....The caribou/wild reindeer is thus an animal that has been a major resource for humans throughout a tremendous geographic area and across a time span of tens of thousands of years." Ernest S. Burch, Jr. The Caribou/Wild Reindeer as a Human Resource. American Antiquity, Vol. 37, No. 3 (Jul., 1972), pp. 339-368.
  22. ^ Gwichʼin Traditional Management Practices
  23. ^ Mieusset, Sébastien, Le "Temps des sucres" au Québec, 
  24. ^ Ovenell-Carter, Julie (06-02-2009), Quebec’s Carnaval is worth freezing your a** off for,, 
  25. ^ [1]
  26. ^ a b c Sarauw, Georg (1914). "Das Rentier in Europa zu den Zeiten Alexanders und Cæsars [The reindeer in Europe to the times of Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar]". in Jungersen, H. F. E.; Warming, E. (in German). Mindeskrift i Anledning af Hundredeaaret for Japetus Steenstrups Fødsel. Copenhagen. pp. 1-33. 
  27. ^ "Est bos cervi figura, cuius a media fronte inter aures unum cornu* exsistit excelsius magisque directum his, quae nobis nota sunt, cornibus: ab eius summo sicut palmae ramique* late diffunduntur. Eadem est feminae marisque natura, eadem forma magnitudoque cornuum." Greenough, J. B.; D'Ooge, Benjamin L.; Daniell, M. Grant (1898). "book 6, chapter 26". Commentary on Caesar, Gallic War. Boston: Ginn and Company. 
  28. ^ Gesner, K. (1617) Historia animalium. Liber 1, De quadrupedibus viviparis. Tiguri 1551. p. 156: De Tarando. 9. 950: De Rangifero.
  29. ^ Aldrovandi, U. (1621) Quadrupedum omnium bisulcorum historia. Bononiæ. Cap. 30: De Tarando - Cap. 31: De Rangifero.
  30. ^ Flexner, Stuart Berg and Leonore Crary Hauck, eds. (1987). The Random House Dictionary of the English Language, 2nd ed. (unabridged). New York: Random House, pp. 315-16)
  31. ^ Peter Gravlund, Morten Meldgaard, Svante Pääbo, and Peter Arctander: Polyphyletic Origin of the Small-Bodied, High-Arctic Subspecies of Tundra Reindeer (Rangifer tarandus). MOLECULAR PHYLOGENETICS AND EVOLUTION Vol. 10, No. 2, October, pp. 151–159, 1998 ARTICLE NO. FY980525. online
  32. ^ S. A. Byun, B. F. Koop, and T. E. Reimchen: Evolution of the Dawson caribou (Rangifer tarandus dawsoni). Can. J. Zool. 80(5): 956–960 (2002). doi:10.1139/z02-062. 2002 NRC Canada. online
  33. ^ "The Legendary Role of Reindeer in Christmas, Jeff Westover, My Merry Christmas, accessed 27 December 2007
  34. ^ Coat of arms for Kuusamo.
  35. ^ Coat of arms for Inari.

External links

Caribou-specific links (North America)

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

REINDEER, in its strict sense the title of a European deer distinguished from all other members of the family Cervidae (see Deer), save those of the same genus, by the presence of antlers in both sexes; but, in the wider sense, including Asiatic and North American deer of the same general type, the latter of which are locally designated caribou. Reindeer, or caribou, constitute the genus Rangifer, and are large clumsily built deer, inhabiting the sub-Arctic and Arctic regions of both hemispheres. As regards their distinctive features, the antlers are of a complex type and situated close to the occipital ridge of the skull, and thus far away from the sockets of the eyes, with the brow-tines in adult males palmated, laterally compressed, deflected towards the middle of the face, and often unsymmetrically developed. Above the brow-tine is developed a second palmated tine, which appears to represent the bez-tine of the red-deer; there is no trez-tine, but some distance above the bez the beam is suddenly bent forward to form an "elbow," on the posterior side of which is usually a short back-tine; above the back-tine the beam is continued for some distance to terminate in a large expansion or palmation. The antlers of females are simple and generally smaller. The muzzle is entirely hairy; the ears and tail are short; and the throat is maned. The coat is unspotted at all ages, with a whitish area in the region of the tail. The main hoofs are short and rounded and the lateral hoofs very large. There is a tarsal, but no metatarsal gland and tuft. In the skull the gland-pit is shallow, and the vacuity of moderate size; the nasal bones are well developed, and much expanded at the upper end. Upper canines are wanting; the cheek-teeth are small and low-crowned, with the third lobe of the last molar in the lower jaw minute. The lateral metacarpal bones are represented only by their lower extremities; the importance of this feature being noticed in the article Deer.

In spite of the existence of a number of more or less well-marked geographical forms, reindeer from all parts of the northern hemisphere present such a marked similarity that it seems preferable to regard them as all belonging to a single widespread species, of which most of the characters will be the same as those of the genus. American naturalists, however, generally regard these as distinct species. The coat is remarkable for its density and compactness; the general colour of the head and upper parts being clove-brown, with more or less white or whitish grey on the under parts and inner surfaces of the limbs, while there is also some white above the hoofs and on the muzzle, and there may be whitish rings round the eyes; there is a white area in the region of the tail, which includes the sides but not the upper surface of the latter; and the tarsal tuft is generally white. The antlers are smooth, and brownish white in colour, but the hoofs jet black. Albino varieties occasionally occur in the wild state. A height of 4 ft. to in. at the shoulder has been recorded in the case of one race.

The wild Scandinavian reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) may be regarded as the typical form of the species. It is a smaller animal than the American woodland race, with antlers approximating to those of the barren-ground race, but less elongated, and with a distinct back-tine in the male, the brow-tines moderately palmated and frequently nearly symmetrical, and the bez-tine not excessively expanded.. Female antlers are generally much smaller than those of males, although occasionally as large, but with much fewer points. The antlers make their appearance at an unusually early age.

Mr Madison Grant considers that American reindeer, or caribou, may be grouped under two types, one represented by the barrenground caribou R. tarandus arcticus, which is a small animal with immense antlers characterized by the length of the beam, and the consequent wide separation of the terminal palmation from the brow-tine; and the other by the woodland-caribou (R. t. caribou), which is a larger animal with shorter and more massive antlers, in which the great terminal expansions are in approximation to the brow-tine owing to the shortness of the beam. Up to 1902 seven other American races had been described, four of which are grouped by Grant with the first and three with the second type. Some of these forms are, however, more or less intermediate between the two main types, as is a pair of antlers from Novaia Zemlia described by the present writer as R. t. pearsoni. The Scandinavian reindeer is identified by Mr Grant with the barren-ground type.

Reindeer are domesticated by the Lapps and other nationalities of northern Europe and Asia, to whom these animals are all-important. Domesticated reindeer have also been introduced into Alaska.

See Madison Grant, "The Caribou," 7th Annual Report, New York Zoological Society (1902); J. G. Millais, Newfoundland and its Untrodden Ways (1908). (R. L.*)

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Up to date as of February 01, 2010

From Wikia Gaming, your source for walkthroughs, games, guides, and more!

Reindeer is the character who watches over the non-Espers in the lower levels of the city (which are inaccessible to the Protagonist). As Reindeer states, for the non-Espers' safety, they cannot come up to where the Espers reside, and the Espers cannot go down. He can be found outside the Clinic, near the ramp leading down to the lower levels.

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Simple English

Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Cervidae
Subfamily: Capreolinae
Genus: Rangifer
C.H. Smith, 1827
Species: R. tarandus
Binomial name
Rangifer tarandus
(Linnaeus, 1758)
File:Rangifer tarandus
Reindeer map

[[File:|thumb|200px|A female reindeer and her child near Inari , Finland.]]

A group of reindeer.
File:Ren on
Two reindeer in Sweden.
Old photograph of a domestic reindeer being milked.

The reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) is an even-toed ungulate mammal of the deer family. In North America it is also called caribou. There are about 10-20 reindeer subspecies. The reindeer is the only deer that has been domesticated.



The different reindeer subspecies have different sizes and slightly same fur colors. Male reindeer are usually bigger and heavier than the females. Reindeer are about 1.20 - 2.20 meters long and about 0.90 - 1.40 meters high. They weigh between 60 - 300 kilograms. Reindeer mostly have a grey-brown fur. The fur is dark in summer and becomes a lighter color in winter. Reindeer are the only deer where both sexes have antlers. The antlers of female reindeer are smaller than the antlers of males. Reindeer also have big feet, which helps them walk on soft ground.

Many people think that Caribou and Reindeer are the same animals, but there are some noticeable differences! Reindeer: - most commonly found as domesticated animals - sedentary - breeding starts mid-Aug - can be pinto colored - dark bown calves - more fat - thicker fur - shorter face and muzzle - females have larger antlers than female caribou

Caribou: - wild - migratory - breeding starts mid-Sept - never pinto colored - light brown calves


Reindeer can be found in Lappland ( Northern Finland, Sweden, Norway and Russia), North America (All over Canada and on farms across North America where they are raised in captivity), and Siberia. They were first used by people to do work in Lappland and Siberia.


Reindeer live in coniferous forest and Arctic conditions.


Reindeer eat mostly grass, but eat also almost any other plant. In winter they often eat Reindeer lichen, moss and fungi.

Reindeer are herd animals and live in groups. They live in groups of 10-100 reindeer, which are herds of only females or herds of only males. Reindeer go on long journeys between the warm and cold seasons. For this journeys the smaller groups form big herds of up to several 100,000 animals. Reindeer mate in October, and the males mate with as many females as possible.

After a pregnancy of 230 days the female gives birth to a single baby, usually in May or June. Reindeer babies do not have spots on their fur, like most other deer babies have. Young reindeer become mature when they are 2 year old. Reindeer usually become 12–15 years old, sometimes they can become 20 years old.

Reindeer and humans

Reindeer have been hunted by humans since the stone age. People, especially in the northern regions, used the reindeer's meat, fur, skin, antlers and bones.

The reindeer was domesticated about 3 thousand years ago. It was first domesticated in Siberia and Scandinavia. Since then, reindeer have also been used for transport, for example for pulling sleds. Because reindeer can live in very cold climates, domesticated reindeer are used in most northern parts of the world. The Sami people in Lapland use Reindeer for fur, and food.

In western/European culture, it is said that Santa Claus' sled is pulled by reindeer.

Look up Rangifer in Wikispecies, a directory of species
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