Welcome back, kids and parents—and Happy Holidays!
This week in Kids Corner, we are putting a Christmas spin on things and answering all of your questions about the amazing, red-nosed, flying reindeer that so famously lead Santa’s sleigh around the world.
We wanted to know, and we hope you do too: Are reindeer real? What are they like? Where do they live (when they’re not with Santa at the north pole)? Can a reindeer really have a red nose, or is Rudolf just a bit unlucky?
Read on to answer these questions and more!
Yes, Reindeer Are Real!
Reindeer are part of the deer family, which means they are related to deer, elk, and moose. In North America (the United States and Canada), reindeer are sometimes called caribou. Caribou comes from the Native American word for these animals.
Reindeer are known for their big antlers—both male and female reindeer have these.
In fact, the male reindeer lose their antlers in the winter, but the female reindeer keep them. Does this mean that the reindeer pulling Santa’s sleigh are really girls? We think so!
Their scientific name is Rangifer tarandus, and there are many different types or subspecies of Reindeer that live around the world.
Reindeer have been on the Earth for roughly 2 million years!
Reindeer Live in the Northern Hemisphere.
They are very common throughout North America (the United States and Canada), Europe, and Northern Scandinavia (Russia and Siberia). In the 1950s, domesticated Reindeer were introduced in Scotland after a man named Mikel Utsi brought them from Sweden after his honeymoon!
Reindeer live in boreal forest (also known as the taiga) and the frozen tundra. They can easily survive in the cold thanks to the hollow hair that covers their bodies and traps their body heat.
Do they live in the North Pole? Other than Santa’s herd, the answer is no. The North Pole sits in the ice-covered Arctic Ocean, so there is no way for these land animals to get there—unless, of course, they know how to fly.
They Do Have Red Noses!
Some of them do, anyway.
Scientists think this is because they have a lot of blood vessels in their nose to help keep their noses warm and regulate their body temperature in frigid environments. This concentration of blood not only warms up the cold air as they breathe, but it gives their noses a red color.
Reindeer Can’t Fly…
Except for Santa’s, that is. But they sure can jump!
In fact, when running at top speed (around 30 miles per hour…of 40 miles per hour for short bursts) a reindeer can jump up to 25 vertical feet—That’s the same as four refrigerators stacked on top of one another!
Another one of their superpowers is that reindeer can float, too. Because their hair is hollow, it holds air inside. Just like having air inside of a pool floaty, the air holds them up in the water.
Reindeer probably wish they could fly, as some species in North America make the longest migration of any land animal. They can walk up to 3,000 miles!
Their Eyes Change Colors.
Reindeers’ eyes are different colors depending on the season.
In the summer, when there is up to 24-hours of daylight in the far north, their eyes become golden. This helps them to see in bright surroundings.
In the winter, when there are three months of darkness in the far north, their eyes become a deep blue. This helps them to see through the darkness.
Reindeer are also the only mammals that can see ultraviolet light, which further helps them to see in the darkness of winter.
Some Reindeer Click When They Walk.
This is because of the tendons in their legs, which slide over their foot bones as they walk. The sliding makes a loud click.
Scientists say that this click helps them to hear each other in snowy and foggy weather, when they can’t see each other well. This helps the herds to stick together.
Research shows that the bigger the reindeer, the louder the click. A loud click might even help a reindeer find a mate!
Thanks For Reading!
We hope you had fun learning about these amazing and magical animals. Keep your eyes on the sky this Christmas, and maybe you'll see Santa's herd in action!
We wish you and your families a very happy and healthy holiday season!