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        Animals | Hoofed Mammals

Wolfgang Bayer/DCI

Known in Europe and Asia as reindeer, the caribou is the only species of deer in which both sexes bear antlers. Males lose them in the spring; females lose them when they give birth in June.

Eight subspecies are recognized, each varying in size, shape, and color.

Huge herds spend the winter feeding in boreal forests. In the spring, they migrate hundreds of miles north to calving grounds in the tundra.

They wander all summer, feeding on leaves of small shrubs, aromatic plants, grasses, sedges, fungi, and lichens; in the fall, they breed.

In Europe, they have been domesticated and are used to pull sleighs since their broad hooves are suited for walking in deep snow.

Animal Facts:

Name: Caribou (Rangifer tarandus)

Family: Cervidae (Deer and Relatives)

Range: Northern Europe, northern Asia, northern Canada, and Alaska

Habitat: Arctic tundra

Diet: Grasses, sedges, herbs, mosses, lichens, and fungi

Head and Body Length: 4 to 7 feet (1.2 to 2.2 m)

Tail Length: 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 cm)

Shoulder Height: 34 to 55 inches (87 to 140 cm)

Weight: 130 to 700 pounds (60 to 318 kg)

Life Cycle: Mating September to November; gestation 220 to 240 days, usually one (maybe two) calves born; twins more likely in Europe

Description: Brown to gray in color; white underparts; dark legs; long antlers with shovel-like brow tine; heavy coat with dense, wooly underfur; large, concave hooves

Conservation Status: Not listed by the IUCN.