Anti-Caturday: Come now, onward! Dasher and Dancer, Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid, Donner and Blitzen

Reindeer

Since we’re coming up on that time of the year when Santa and his reindeers take to the air it’s high-time to talk about reindeer. And while there’s this myth that people think in Finland polar bears and reindeers just walk around in the streets that’s actually true about reindeers in northern Finland. Now I’m a Southern Finland type of girl and while I half grew up on a farm I gotta tell you, it was a surreal experience, being out to walk the dog on the outskirts of Rovaniemi and coming across a small herd of reindeer just hanging around on a playground. But I’m digressing. So, reindeer. While there are completely wild populations all over the North (the North American reindeer is simply called Caribou), the reindeer is also semi-domesticated in that they usually graze in herds of varying sizes in the wild but they are herded and tended by various human populations too.

Of all the currently living deer species, female reindeers are the only ones to sport antlers and relative to body size the male reindeer have the largest antlers (insert mandatory giggling). And really, if you don’t count moose, they have the largest antlers of any species of deer. You can also tell the gender of any given reindeer from afar at different times of year by their antlers. See, young males drop their antlers in the spring, while females do it in the summer, whereas older males drop theirs in December. Which means that Santa’s reindeer are most likely female.

Speaking of which; while Santa no doubt appreciates his cookies and the reindeer will most likely eat them (they are known to eat things as varied as lemmings, grass, bird eggs, mushrooms and leaves), the reindeer’s food of choice is lichen. So if you want to keep the reindeer happy while Santa does his all important work, scour the trees in your neighborhood to find them a snack.

Reindeer

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