Happy Holidays! Here at Petwise, we usually focus on, well, pets. However, given that it’s the holidays, we’re turning the spotlight on another lovable animal: the reindeer! Here, a Wichita, KS veterinarian lists a few things you may not know about Santa’s buddies.

What’s In A Name

You may not have heard much about the reindeer here in North America. That doesn’t mean they aren’t here: we just call them caribou!


Both male and female reindeer grow antlers. In fact, their antlers can get as long as 1.4 meters. They can also have up to 44 points, or tines.

Red Nose?

Reindeer really do have red noses! Well, sort of. Reindeer noses–which are actually fuzzy– have lots of tiny blood vessels. These heat up the air Rudolph inhales, keeping him warm.

Hoofing It

This next one is pretty unique. Reindeer feet—which are technically hooves—grow in summer and shrink in winter.
Deer On The Run
Reindeer could almost be called rundeer: they are always on the move. They migrate a whopping 3000 miles a year on average. (Of course, Rudolph also racks up a lot of miles on Christmas Eve.)


Have you ever heard the term knock-kneed? This may have originated with Rudolph. Reindeer knees actually click when they walk. The noise helps herds stay together in whiteout conditions.

A Name

You may think the the name ‘reindeer’ comes from the fact that they can be trained to pull sleds. Nope! The term is actually derived from the Norse word ‘hreinn’ which means ‘deer’.


Reindeer are often hunted by wolves, wolverines, and even bears. Golden eagles are actually the biggest threat to baby reindeer. One unfortunate reindeer was even found inside a Greenland shark!

They Swim

Did the shark one make you do a double take? Reindeer are able to swim, which helps them ford rivers and marshes as they migrate.


Wild reindeer live about 15 years, assuming they are able to evade those eagles, bear, wolves, and sharks. Domesticated reindeer, however, can make it up to 20 years, or even longer.


Reindeer may enjoy a cookie on Christmas Eve, but their favorite meal is actually a certain type of lichen. In fact, they like it so much that it’s now called reindeer lichen.

Happy Holidays! Please contact us, your Wichita, KS pet hospital, anytime. We are always happy to help!