The reindeer is popular because it is associated with Santa Claus and his sleigh. The “rein” in reindeer does not refer to the reins of a sleigh. It is an old Norwegian word for “deer”, so when you say “reindeer”, you are really just saying “deer-deer.”
Reindeer inhabit the northern, colder parts of the continents of Europe, Asia and North America. Many people, who live in these areas, keep huge herds of reindeer. It’s believed that they were domesticated roughly 2,000 years ago.
Reindeer are well suited to their cold climate, with heavy fur coats. Their sharp hooves are used when snow is on the ground to dig down to the grass.
They are herbivores (plant-eaters) who spend most of the day eating. During the winter, reindeer eat lichens and moss while in warmer months, they eat leaves and herbs.
Reindeer are strong runners and very good swimmers. The reindeer is about 1.2 metres tall at the shoulder and 1.8 metres long. Males are called bulls and females cows.
One interesting thing is that unlike other types of deer, they have antlers (horns that look like branches of a tree). The antlers are shed each year and they re-grow.
Reindeer have very wide hooves, a broad muzzle, and thick brown fur. The thick fur traps air, which insulates the reindeer from the cold and helps the reindeer float in water.