Animal review: reindeer

But do you recall, the most famous deer species of all?

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A reindeer in its natural habitat, this god-forsaken frozen hellscape.

Evan Rocha, Staff Writer

The reindeer, or caribou, as it’s called in North America, is a species of deer common to northern climates in Europe, Asia, and North America. They are pretty widespread in most snowy forests, but a few species stand out as endangered, mainly due to loss of habitat and human expansion.

Among reindeer, most grow antlers. Even female reindeer can grow them, given motivation. The antlers of a large male reindeer can grow up to 39 inches in width and 53 inches in length, giving them bragging rights as the largest antler to body ratio of any deer species. Evidently the males grow antlers primarily to show off to females, or to fight other males to impress said females. Why exactly then female reindeer also grow antlers, I don’t know. Maybe they want to join in on the intra-species Fight Club. Maybe they’re just confused.

Fur color also varies among deer. In extreme northern populations, their coats are white. In southern populations, fur coats are darker, with brown and black becoming more common.  This adaptive camouflage probably helps a lot when the reindeer hunts its most common prey, moss. Reindeer mainly consume reindeer moss, shockingly named for the deer. Apparently, it is not actually a moss, as Wikipedia so matter-of-factly notifies me, but a lichen, which basically looks like moss but has a cool name and consequently identity issues. Nonetheless the deer scarf the stuff down en masse. As a result, the reindeer is vegan, but it shuns Whole Foods and farmers’ markets for the undergrowth of trees and shrubs. Sometimes, if food is scarce, the reindeer will feed on small rodents, fish, or bird eggs, much like the human vegan is often swayed by fried chicken or a burger.

The reindeer can run at speeds up to 50 miles per hour, and a day-old infant already has the speed to outrun Olympic sprinters. This is useful for when the deer has to escape its most common predators, polar bears and wolves. Packs of wolves will often follow herds of reindeer during a migration to prey on stragglers.  The reindeer’s speed is basically its only line of defense, which is a negative, but it does run faster than everything trying to kill it, which is a plus.

Overall, the reindeer is a very intrepid trekker of the tundra. Famous in movies and television, they are an extremely memorable animal to people of all ages. They’re often used by people in northern climates as sled animals, a food source, or even mounted transport, because why not that sounds really cool.  I personally like the reindeer because it’s basically a snow deer with bigger antlers. I’d say it’s a solid 7/10, with room for improvement.

Pros:

  • Fast
  • Defensive antlers
  • Adaptive camo
  • Can complete a 5k in four minutes (calculations confirm)
  • You can ride a reindeer like a horse, yes it’s a real thing and you can watch videos of Mongolians riding them.

Cons:

  • Weak to wolves
  • No upper body strength
  • No lower body strength
  • Cannot actually have red nose
  • Vegan