>> Saturday, December 19, 2009
Since it's the winter holiday season (and I haven't written about much else in a while), we are going to talk about an animal that for some reason has become closely associated with this time of year: the reindeer. The reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) is also known as a caribou. They live in areas all over the world nearest the Arctic circle. The bull or male caribou can weigh up to 700 lbs. while the female is smaller and can reach weights of 350 lbs. In North America, usually only the domesticated ones are still called reindeer and in the wild are known as caribou.
Caribou are members of the deer family but are the only member in which males and females both grow antlers. Females in good health can breed at 16 months and calving usually occurs from May to June. They will usually have one calf per year.
Due to the harsh environs these animals live in, they must migrate great areas to maintain an adequate supply of food. They will eat lots of things from various shrubs to lichens and more. The males will lose their coats in about August marking the start of this migratory and breeding season. Herds of caribou have differences in ranges of about 400 miles between summer and winter. They do not fly. :D
Photo from peupleloups photostream on Flickr and is licensed under Creative Commons.