Skip main navigation
Close menu


Rangifer tarandus

  • Reindeer
  • Reindeer
  • Reindeer
  • Reindeer
  • Reindeer
  • Reindeer
  • reindeer

About the Reindeer

conservation status: vulnerable

Geographic Range:

range map

Class: Mammalia  
Order: Artiodactyla  
Family: Cervidae  
Genus: Rangifer  
Species: tarandus 

Reindeer, famed for their association with pulling Santa’s sleigh, are powerful animals that can pull a load of up to 300 pounds at an average of eight miles per hour. These medium-sized deer have running speeds of between 37 to 50 miles per hour. Equally as powerful in the water, reindeer can move across wide rushing rivers and even the frozen ice of the Arctic Ocean. Traveling in herds, reindeer are constantly on the move, typically trekking 12 to 34 miles a day.

Reindeer Facts

Reindeer are a medium-sized deer that have brown coats during the summer and grayer coats in the winter. Their underbellies are pale to white. Both males and females have antlers, with the females being smaller and less ornate.

Height: 4.5 feet Weight: 200 to 600 pounds

Reindeer graze on grasses, leaves, lichen and twigs.

Reindeer have a mating season in the fall from September to November. Males try to gather a harem of females or mate with as many as they can. After a 228-day gestation period, females give birth to a single offspring. The offspring reaches sexual maturity after 3.5 years.

Reindeer live in herds that are constantly moving in search of food. Herds generally travel 12 to 34 miles a day. In short bursts, they can reach 37 to 50 miles per hour. Herds group together more tightly during winter months to conserve heat. They have specialized hairs that trap warmth to their body and allow them to float in water. They even have hair on their muzzle and nostrils to protect them from the cold while grazing in snow. They're strong swimmers and have large hooves for traveling over ice and snow.

Reindeer live in the boreal forests of northern Eurasia and North America. Domestic reindeer have been introduced into Greenland, Iceland and Scotland.

Median Life Expectancy:
In the wild, reindeer usually live around 4 to 5 years.