They Used to Laugh and Call Her Names

Rudolph and Santa's other sleigh-pullers may be ladies
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 19, 2008 1:07 PM CST
Male reindeer lose their horns before Christmas, but females and castrated males retain their headgear until February or March.   (©tristanf)
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(Newser) – Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer very likely is a girl, or so say wildlife experts who’ve turned their attention to Santa’s lead sleigh-puller. Male reindeer typically shed their horns before Christmas, so popular images of Rudolph’s team with big, branched antlers would mean they might actually be female, reports the AP.

Steers, or castrated male deer, also keep their horns until February or March, and are often chosen to pull sleds because they keep up their strength during the winter. Pregnant deer keep their antlers the longest, until their babies arrive in the spring, but the scientists don’t seem to think Santa would put expectant mothers through a grueling night of visiting millions of houses. (Read more reindeer stories.)