Caribou, an American reindeer ranging from Maine to British Columbia and northward. A few also inhabit northern Idaho. With the exception of the musk ox, the caribou ranges farther north than any other hoofed animal. Caribou feed on various types of plants. The woodland caribou is a swift, grayish or brownish animal. Its height, at the shoulder, is about 3 ½ feet (slightly more than 1 m). The antlers, which are borne by both sexes, are flattened somewhat like those of a moose. Woodland caribou are endangered.

The Barren Ground caribou, smaller and lighter colored than the woodland caribou, ranges farther to the north, beyond the limit of timber—in a region sometimes known as the Barren Grounds.

How Are a Caribou Hoofs Like Snowshoes?

You might think that a Caribou's feet would sink hard into the snow with each step it takes. But that does not happen. A caribou’s hoof is split and spread wide apart. Its shape works like a snowshoe to keep the caribou on top of the snow.

A caribou’s hoofs are well protected. Long hair grows down over the hoofs and covers them. A caribou also has a special gland that gives off a greasy material. This material helps protect the hair around the hoof from snow and ice.

Above each hoof are two long toes called dewclaws. They give a caribou extra support when it walks in snow.

Every spring, large herds of caribou migrate to the Arctic tundra for food. The caribou walk hundreds of miles on ice and snow. They use their hoofs to dig for food.

The woodland caribou is Rangifer tarandus caribou; the Barren Ground, R. t. arcticus. Caribou are of the deer family, Cervidae.