The reindeer, also called caribou, is a ruminant living in Canada, Alaska, Russia, and other arctic countries. It shares a lot of its range with the wolverine. This animal is called a reindeer in Asia and Europe, and a caribou in North America, but they are both the same species. There is one slight difference between the reindeer and the caribou however. Caribou have dark legs and body while reindeer have more of a gray color.
Caribou feed on grasses and other small plants growing in the tundra and can eat up to 12 pounds (5 kg) of this each day! The reason for their large appetite is their large size of up to 700 pounds (318 kg). They can grow up to 5 feet (1.5 m) tall at the shoulders, even taller at the tip of the antlers, and 7.2 feet (2.2 m) from nose to tail. These sizes are for the males; the females are smaller. Each year, the reindeer’s antlers fall off and are re-grown the next year. Caribou are special because they are the only member of the deer family in which both the males and the females have antlers.
During the winter, herds of up to 500,000 caribou migrate south for up to 3,000 miles (5,000 km). Groups living further south do not migrate as far but still travel a long ways. In the wild, 3.5 million caribou live in North America and 1 million reindeer in Europe and Asia. Domestic reindeer also live in Europe and are thought to number up to 3 million. Caribou and reindeer mate in October and give birth to one baby the following May or June. Reindeer can live up to 15 years in the wild, and up to 20 years in captivity.
Don’t forget to check out the activity sheet under sources and guess what the next animal is!
Here’s the picture of next week’s animal.
- Coloring/activity sheet
- Animals of the world. Tom Jackson, ISBN: 978-1780191089
- Animal: The Definitive Visual Guide. David Burnie and Don E. Wilson, Smithsonian Institution, ISBN: 978-0-7566-6002-4
- Caribou – public domain
- Caribou/reindeer range map – public domain
- Mystery animal – public domain