ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10)- Around Christmastime there is one animal that dashes ahead of all others in people’s minds- reindeer.
They are the subject of countless holiday stories, songs and movies but most importantly how Santa Claus gets around.
Brown in color reindeer are similar in body size to a deer but unlike deer both male and female reindeer have antlers and they are the only deer species to do so according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Below are more facts about reindeer and how they became to be an integral part of holiday culture.
- Reindeer and caribou are the same animal (Rangifer tarandus). A reindeer is just a domesticated caribou.
- Santa’s reindeer may actually be female! Both male and female reindeer grow antlers, but males lose theirs in the fall.
- In comparison to body size, reindeer have the largest and heaviest antlers of all living deer species.
- Reindeer are covered in hair from the tip of their nose to the bottom of the hooves.
- During the spring, reindeer can form “super-herds” numbering anywhere from 50,000 to 500,000 animals!
- Reindeer are the only deer species to be domesticated – Used as beasts of burden and farmed for their milk, meat, and hides.
- Santa’s reindeer made their first appearance in William Gilley’s 1821 16-page booklet titled A New Year’s Present to the Little Ones from Five to Twelve, Part III .