Why are reindeer Santa’s winter guides?
We all know the stories of Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, and of course, Rudolph. They are the nine reindeer that help fly and guide Santa Claus’s sleigh across the world delivering presents to boys and girls over Christmas. But why did Santa choose reindeer?
A fun fact about reindeer, which are the same species as caribou, is they LOVE the winter and greatly adapt to the colder temperatures. Their bodies are covered from the tips of their noses to the bottom of their hooves in hair. They are equipped with nasal turbinates that allow the cold air they inhale to warm up before it reaches their lungs (If you’ve been outside in the middle of an Edmonton winter, you know what it is like to breathe freezing air!). Their wide-shaped hooves function like a wonderful pair of snowshoes, perfect for walking over the snow. When the snow gets too deep and heavy, reindeer have flat shovel-shaped antlers that allow them to move snow to access the lichen underneath for a tasty treat.
It seems there’s no animal better to help Santa than reindeer who are equipped to tackle the cold and snow!
But there is one more fun fact, and probably the most interesting of all! Did you know that a reindeer’s eyes will change color between summer and winter? In the midst of the summer heat, their eyes will be a golden brown. But when the temperatures begin to drop, their eyes will become less reflective until they are a deep blue! Mind blowing, right?
The Edmonton Valley Zoo is home to a herd of six of Santa’s finest. Come visit our very own reindeer during their favorite season this winter!