Monday, December 17, 2012

Alphabet Advent – R is for

R-12-cap eindeer

 

Incontri Ravvicinati...
Image Citation

Did you know that reindeer are the domesticated version of caribou? They are both classified as Rangifer tarandus, but caribou are slightly larger and might eat you for lunch. The reindeer will happily pull your sleigh as you deliver goodies to your neighbors.

Reindeer have some pretty amazing adaptations for surviving the cold weather. They are completely covered in hair from their noses to the bottoms of their feet. The hairy hooves give reindeer excellent traction while navigating the frozen tundra. The wide hooves can also be used for paddling while swimming.

They also have two layers of fur. The first coat is a fine, soft wool that stays close to their skin. The top layer has long, hollow guard hairs that use trapped air to hold in their body heat. In addition to providing insulation, the guard hairs help the reindeer to float when they swim across rivers.

Reindeer also have highly adapted noses. Their noses actually warm the air before it enters their lungs. This adaptation also aids in smelling. When reindeer travel, they travel into the wind so they can pick up scents.

Fun facts via the San Diego Zoo
    • Both male and female reindeer grow long antlers, the only deer species to do so.
    • Some reindeer travel 9 to 40 miles (15 to 65 kilometers) daily in the same area; others migrate 750 miles (1,200 kilometers) twice a year in large herds.
    • In comparison to body size, reindeer have the largest and heaviest antlers of all living deer species.
    • Adult reindeer can swim 4 to 6 miles per hour (6 to 10 kilometers per hour) and can run up to 50 miles per hour (80 kilometers per hour).
    • When reindeer walk, their feet make a loud clicking noise due to a tendon slipping over the foot bone.

I highly recommend scooting over to the San Diego Zoo’s Animal Bytes page on Reindeer (Caribou) because they have a recording of a reindeer calf. Pretty awesome, if you ask me.

1 comment:

DC said...

I'm really enjoying reading your daily posts. The time and effort you put into writing each entry amazes me!