In only a few more days, a small group of the world’s most famous reindeer will be doing their annual “migration.” Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder, Blitzen (and Rudolph, of course!) are the legendary reindeer that help Santa Claus deliver all those toys to kids by pulling his sleigh ’round the world on Christmas Eve. Because of the Clement Clark Moore poem and the song Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, we know a fair bit about this famous herd. But what about the rest of the world’s reindeer?
Reindeer Around the World
Reindeer live in the northernmost places in the world, such as Alaska, northern Canada and in the Nordic countries like Norway and Finland. In North America, reindeer that live in the wild are known as caribou, and only those that have been domesticated are called reindeer. Did you know that reindeer are the only members of the deer family that are widely domesticated? Reindeer are also the only the deer species in which both males and females grow antlers!
Here are some other fun facts:
- Reindeer migrate extraordinary distances, often more than 3000 miles—which must be why Santa picked them to pull his sleigh.
- While Santa’s team has only nine members, most reindeer travel in herds of hundreds or even thousands!
- Reindeer fur is something like polar bear fur: The fur is hollow, which insulates them so that they don’t emit much heat. This keeps them both warm and dry, since they don’t melt the snow that they lie on!
- Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer has a very shiny nose, but usually, reindeer grow fur on their noses to keep warm.
- We don’t have any scientific facts that tell us how fast they fly, but they can run nearly 50 miles an hour and swim about six miles an hour.
Interesting stuff! But sadly, America’s reindeer, or caribou, are threatened by climate change. Learn more about caribou in the video below, “Feeling the Heat,” starring Jeff Corwin.
Of course, if you want to track the most famous reindeer of all on their journey this Christmas, NORAD will be tracking Santa again this year! You can follow them here.