Origins and characteristics of the Reindeer
Reindeer is widespread in the northernmost regions of the northern hemisphere, from Siberia to Alaska. The most common habitat is the tundra, but often they go further south, for example to winter in the colder season, up to the large coniferous forests. It forms large flocks (often thousands of reindeer), particularly in the reproductive period (September-October).
It reaches a height of 110-130 cm at the withers and a weight of 180-250 kg in males. The trunk is elongated, with strong and well developed limbs. The coat is thick, usually gray-brown in color, and particularly long and abundant under the chin. The wide and wide hooves allow it to move on snowy ground. The horns, also present in females, are very long and branched, and are changed every year. Very fast animal, it can reach a speed of 70 Km per hour.
The reindeer reaches sexual maturity around the age of two. The gestation lasts about eight months, at the end of which usually only one baby is born. Typically domestic reindeer live around 18-21 years.
Nine subspecies, and several domestic breeds (very often in these breeds there are white or piebald coats and in general a lesser development of the stages).
- R. tarandus platyrhynchus
- R. tarandus tarandus
- R. tarandus fennicus
- R. tarandus caribou (Caribou)
- R. tarandus pearyi
- R. tarandus groenlandicus
- R. tarandus granti
- R. tarandus eogroenlandicus
Reindeer farming is widespread mainly in Lapland (Finland). For local populations, reindeer is an important source of livelihood. In particular, it is used as a mount, as a pack animal and for the production of milk, meat and skin. Even the bones, suitably worked, were used to manufacture tools for daily use. The horns, and in particular the velvet that covers them, is used for medicinal use (especially in Asian countries).
Reindeer - Rangifer tarandus (photo Patrick Savinelli)