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Reindeer is a half-wild artiodactyl, that has been tamed from the mountain dear. It is relatively small, but strong and tough northern animal.
Reindeer is extremely well adapted to the northern environment. One of its most important qualities is its warm fur, that is about 4 centimetres thick and second warmest fur in the world. Only polar bear has warmer and more insulating fur.
The uniqueness of reindeer fur appears at a closer look: each hair is actually hollow inside creating air pockets inside the fur. Underneath the covering hair there is a thick underlying hair that increase the thermal insulation. Reindeer fur can consist of up to 1700 hair per square centimetre. The face and legs of reindeer are completely covered with hair. In their legs the fur is not that thermal insulating, but instead they have a special blood circulating system in their legs that prevents them from getting cold even if the temperature of the legs is just couple degrees above zero Celsius degrees.
During the summer reindeer’s winter fur would be too much for them because of the heat. Considering this and the fact that in the summertime there is a lot of food available, it is a good time for the reindeer to shed the hair. In summer reindeer also grow new antlers. Reindeer antler is said to be the fastest growing bone. It can grow up to 2 cm in just one day. During the time the antlers are growing they are covered with a protecting hair and the antler is very sensitive. In autumn the antlers have grown to full length and reindeer rub the dried hairy skin off. Now the antlers are hard as bone, durable and senseless. Reindeer stags use the antlers to fight each other during the mating season. After mating season stags shed their antlers. Female reindeer does also have antlers, although they are much smaller. Does use their antlers to protect their pasture from reindeer stags during winter time, and also to protect their new born calves in spring. The does keep their antlers all through winter until late spring when they have their calf. The calves also grow small antlers in their first summer.
The hooves of reindeer are special because they spread to help reindeer walk on deep snow in winter or bogs in the summertime. The hoof is quadrinomial, curved on the top and sharp in the front. The front hooves of reindeer are excellent to cave snow for food in the winter.
Reindeer’s sight is not particularly accurate, although its night vision is well developed. Reindeer’s most important sense is its sense of smell that enables reindeer to find nutrition all year around.
Reindeer stag weighs about 90-180 kg and their height at the withers is about 110 cm. Their antlers can weigh up to 10 kg. Reindeer doe weighs about 60-100 kg and are 90 cm of height. Doe’s antlers are small and light. Calves born weighing 4 to 6 kg and they grow quickly due to dam’s nutritious milk that is very high in fat. Later on, the calves feed on Lappish nature’s products like greens and lichens. Reindeer can live up to 20 years.