By now, Santa will be making last minute preparations with his reindeer training schedule, to make sure they are fit and healthy and ready for their mammoth job on Christmas Eve.
Santa, famously has 9 reindeer:
and Rudolph, who is famous for his red nose.
Whilst reindeer can’t actually fly, there is some truth to the idea a red nose. This is down to densely packed blood vessels in the nose area – a survival adaptation for the winter cold, to allow temperature regulation in the extreme environment north of the arctic circle.
As far as antlers go, Santa’s reindeer tend to be depicted with them, meaning that Santa’s sleigh is pulled by an all-female team. Both male and female reindeer have antlers, which are made of bone, that sprout in the spring and are shed each year.
Male reindeer begin to regrow their antlers in February, whilst females begin to regrow theirs in May and whilst both sexes finish growing antlers at the same time, the males shed theirs again in November, meaning that only females still possess their antlers towards the end of December: again, this is a survival mechanism because they need to be able to fight for food over winter, to sustain their pregnancies.
Reindeer hair is hollow to allow floatation and gives the ability to swim across a river if necessary, but can be various shades from brown to almost white, depending on the habitat.
It has also been found that reindeer do not release melatonin, the hormone which regulates the need to sleep. This is a great bonus for the hardworking reindeer on Christmas Eve – they travel all around the world in one night and don’t experience jet lag meaning they can carry all the more presents!
Until next time, keep calm and apply some Science!