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Monday, 24 July 2017

Reindeer

ETYMOLOGY 

The reindeer is a species of deer living in Arctic regions. In North America it is called a caribou.


The name "reindeer" comes from the Norse word "hreinn," meaning deer.

REINDEERS IN HISTORY

During World War II, the crew of British submarine HMS Trident kept a fully grown reindeer called Pollyanna aboard for six weeks.

On August 26, 2016 in Hardangervidda, Kingdom of Norway, a herd of wild reindeer was struck by lightning. More than three hundred reindeer died in what wildlife officials say was "a highly unusual massacre by nature."

FICTIONAL REINDEER 

Santa's reindeer were introduced in the poem "A Visit From St Nicholas" written by Clement Clarke Moore in 1823. He named eight reindeer. The ninth, Rudolph, was added in 1939.


The song "Up on the House Top," which was written by Benjamin Hanby in 1864, is responsible for giving people the idea of Santa Claus and his reindeer landing on people’s homes, just before Santa is supposed to head down the chimney.

Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer, was created in 1939, for the Chicago-based Montgomery Ward department stores. Robert L. May, a copywriter for the stores, created a Rudolph coloring booklet as a Christmas promotional gift for their customers.

Rudolph's story was made into a song by May's brother-in-law, songwriter Johnny Marks. "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer" was first recorded by singing cowboy Gene Autry in 1949 and went on to become the second biggest-selling Christmas song of all time, next to Bing Crosby's "White Christmas."

Rudolph is copyrighted - Chuck Berry had to pay up when he wrote a rock song about the famous reindeer ("Run Rudolph Run").

In 2001, Harrods store in London had to replace Santa's reindeer and sleigh with a horse and cart because of an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease.

Since male reindeer shed their antlers in December, Santa's sleigh is most likely pulled by females.

HABITATION 

Reindeer live in the northernmost parts of the world; they are native to Arctic regions, as well as northern Europe and Siberia.

Reindeer standing on snow to avoid blood-sucking insects. Bjørn Christian Tørrissen 

The Arctic reindeer was a species that lived in Greenland but became extinct around 1900.

ANATOMY 

Reindeer are uniquely capable of living in harsh and cold environments. Their noses actually warm the air before they breathe it in, so that their lungs don't freeze.This explains why Santa chose reindeer to lead his sleigh - he needed animals that could live at the North Pole!

Reindeer have the widest feet of any deer. They seem to have adapted for walking in snow.

A one-day-old North American reindeer can outrun an Olympic sprinter. Adult reindeer can run at speeds of 40-50mph.


Both male and female reindeer have antlers. Male reindeer lose their antlers during the winter.

The size of the antlers plays a significant role in establishing the reindeer's hierarchy in the group

Reindeer eyes change color from gold to blue during winter. This helps them see in the dark and better detect predators.

Reindeer are the only mammals that can see into the ultraviolet spectrum, and adapt their eyes for winter night vision. This allows them to see lichen, polar bears against the snow, and urine trails.

DIET

Reindeer mainly eat lichens in winter, especially reindeer moss. They have a unique adaptation among mammals which enables them to break down lichen to glucose.

Reindeer like to eat bananas.


RELATIONSHIP WITH HUMANS 

In Lapland a sport called 'pulka' features reindeer pulling a sleigh known as a 'pulk', which is normally used for transport or carrying supplies.

Reindeer milk is the only source of milk for Laplanders, because no other dairy animal can survive in such a cold environment.

It takes two Laplanders to milk a reindeer - one to do the milking, the other to hold the antlers.

Milking reindeer in the 19th century

Reindeer meat was a widespread source of food for prehistoric humans. Hunters stalked and killed the reindeer which they found crossing their territory and their lives followed the rhythm of the herds' migrations.

After the Italian Prime Minister complained about Finnish cuisine, the Finns entered an international pizza competition, named their entry (with marinated reindeer meat) after the PM, and came in first place.

Sources Daily Express, Kidzworld, Songfacts

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