Climate change is blamed for a drop of nearly 60% in reindeer numbers in recent decades and scientists warn that Arctic ecosystems are likely to suffer as a result. LiveScience lists other surprising—and less depressing—facts about St. Nick's beasts of burden.
- They're actually caribou. Caribou and reindeer are the same species. The term "reindeer" generally refers to domesticated caribou in Scandinavia and Siberia that are herded and used to pull sleds.
- Though they're slow walkers, they can run at speeds of up to 48 mph.
- They're champion travelers. Caribou trek up to 3,000 miles a year, more than any other land mammal.
- They're built for cold. Hollow hairs that trap air keep the herds warm while grazing on the tundra.
- Rudolph, Blitzen, and the rest of the gang are female. Male reindeer lose their antlers by December, meaning the team pulling Santa's sleigh is all-female, if the sightings are to be believed.
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