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Wild (caribou) reindeer

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Reindeer is the most gregarious from all the deer family and the most democratic in allocation of outward signs: female deer have antlers too. Antlers are big and branchy. Reindeer cast horns every year to grow them again. Reindeer has lengthened body and neck, and quiet short legs. The length of adult deer can reach 6.8 feet and height – 4.6 feet. The weight of adult deer is about 330 pounds. The color of wild reindeer is brown.

Reindeer is adapted to severe winters. Deep snow saves them from cold. During snowfall reindeer can lie down and let the snow cover it. In such a case snow becomes salutary cover for them. But if the layer of the snow is too thick it becomes fierce enemy. If the height of the snowdrift is more than 70-80 reindeer can’t get food from under the snow and can die.

To the climatic and weather conditions we can add misfortunes called with one word “mosquitoes”. Mosquitoes can sting antlers that grow under the skin. Black flies fill hair trying to find the best place for sting. Greenheads, bloodsucker, black gnats – this is not a full list of troubles that worry the animals. These insects contaminate reindeer’s skin much. Gadfly lays its larva in naves and in the mouth of reindeer, which can even penetrate into brain and kill the deer.

Deer eats cup moss 9 months a year. This is a name of lichen from Cladonia family but people usually call it reindeer moss. In summer deer eat various grasses. They like sedge, moss crop, dock and legumes. Trees are very low in tundra, deer like to graze osier. They can search for mushrooms. They like salty food and can drink sea water and eat seaweed. Sometimes deer can eat birds’ eggs if it comes across nest in tundra. Sometimes it happens that in spring reindeer can crush a little gnawer-lemming by its hoof.

The main enemy of reindeer is wolf, since deer is the main food for wolf. But it is not easy for wolf to catch up this animal because it is very fast. The prey of wolf is mainly a sick and old deer. Besides wolverine is very dangerous for deer because it attacks adult deer. Fox and arctic fox kills young deer. However a man with a gun does most harm to it.

Only life can be cited against untimely death. In autumn in tundra you can hear blaring cry – it is a call of buck to the doe and also it is a threat for the rival. This period is called rut. Buck takes part in it when it is about 3-4 years of age, though it “dreams” about it since 1.5 years of age. At first adult bucks don’t allow young deer to take part in breeding, since it is a very responsible thing.

Buck chooses a place from where it can be heard well and begins lowing so to call she-deer and to express readiness to fight for them. It breaks branches, digs the ground with the hooves, wallows in mud. If its lowing is vain, it goes to search. It searches by scent. At this period deer forget about care and become so embittered that can even attack a man. Adult bucks preserve life of the young. When young deer broke off their antlers and get wounded, they move away. During this period deer doesn’t eat anything, only drinks water. Mating season lasts till cold weather. In 3-4 weeks buck loses its weight, sometimes it is ready to drop with fatigue – but ahead hard winter, fodder shortage is possible – because deer can’t stock up enough food. There are more she-deer than bucks in a herd. And strong leaders have “harem”.

She-deer behaves very carefully when it feels that it will bear soon. It doesn’t run without necessity and doesn’t climb on height. It tries to find grass overall with vitamins on a pasture. In spring in secluded corner a she-deer gives birth to newborn. It is called “young reindeer”. On the first day of its life young reindeer can hardly stand on it’s soft hooves. But in a week it is ready to swim across the river where a man will not dare to swim in. However young reindeer is absolutely defenseless. Its ability to hide saves its life. It can lie without movements and almost without breath. It’s not easy for predator to find young reindeer.

Though mother’s milk is fatty like cream, young reindeer grow slowly on it. Looking at its mother young reindeer tastes willow-herb. Orange-cap boletus (aspen mashroom) has hardly protruded its red head – and it is just melt in the mouth. Branches of young willow are very tasty too. She-deer showed its son the most wonderful thing – reindeer moss. And the entire world found out to be very tasty! Reindeer eat about 200-300 kinds of plant, but sometimes it can be poisonous plants. For example, pasqueflower is counter-indicative for domestic animals, but it is edible for reindeer. Also reindeer like driftweed. They can eat it on the sea-shore and sometimes go into water to find it.

Towards the end of the second week of life young reindeer’s life antlers began to grow. Antlers for reindeer are a symbol of power, courage and success. In spring they grow in 0.03 feet in a day. At first they look like soft, full of blood, and covered with hair bumps. They are very sensitive to mosquitoes stings, it is easy to wound and mutilate them. During summer antlers become hard. Reindeer rub with it against trunks in order to shed the skin. When the rut is over, reindeer shed quite good antlers. Up to spring deer is hornless. But she-deer shed their antlers only when they gave birth to young reindeer. About 4000 specimen dwell in Kamchatka. The most tranquil place for reindeer is The Kronotsky reserve.