Reindeer in the Arctic: How Do They Survive?

Reindeer AntlersA female reindeer with her calf in the Arctic during springtime. Reindeer are a species of deer besides known as caribou ( Rangifer tarandus ) in certain regions. They are found in the Arctic tundra. many arctic islands covered in the tundra are base to reindeer, along boreal forests. Finland is home to a minor population of forest caribou. And, following a successful reintroduction in the Cairngorms, they are now besides found in Scotland. With caribou be in some of the harshest north-polar environments in the world, let ’ s dive into how they survive .

How Reindeer Survive in the Arctic

Male reindeer isolated on white background.A Reindeers’ Antlers, fur, vision, and feet are created to withstand wintry conditions. Reindeers survive in the Arctic thanks to a series of adaptations that allow them to survive cold temperatures and long winters where food is scarce. Temperatures in the Arctic routinely fall below zero, with snow-white and freeze terrain. therefore, precisely how precisely does a caribou survive in the Arctic ’ s extreme cold ? There are respective explanations for this :


An active layer of permafrost is the only layer of land that can support plant life in the Arctic tundra, which lacks adequate dirt layers like those seen in temperate grassland. Despite this, there are between 1700 and 2,000 plant species that survive in this land, which is classified as Gelisol Soil. This level of land melts in the summer and allows implant life to thrive. As the seasons change, the weather changes equally well, causing mellow and freeze bicycle. The far north you go, the smaller the active layer you have, and the less emergence you can expect. Tundra territory can be anywhere from 10 to 40 inches thick ( 25 to 100 curium ) ! The antlers of caribou are used to scrape away snow and burrow through the territory in research of food. Among deer species, caribou antlers are among the largest, and they are besides unique in that they are stage on both male and female caribou. Every year, caribou antlers shed their old antlers to grow new antlers for the approaching seasons and conditions they must face.


Tundra temperatures frequently hover round -28°C ( -18.4°F ) throughout the cold months of the year, with austere lows of -70°C ( -94°F ) being common. Temperatures rise to their highest points in July and August when they can reach angstrom high as 16°C ( 60°F ). Conditions here are harsh, and survival requires specific adaptations. Reindeer have an ultra-fine and dense undercoat with a shagged upper berth layer. The out hairs are hole, like the fur of a polar wear, and provide insulation .


The caribou scent is not only furred, but it has a unique warm process going on inside. To explain, the air travel a caribou rest is heated as they inhale and cooled as they exhale, causing water vaporization to condense before being released into the atmosphere. This keeps them warm and even creates a pinkish-red touch on their noses, much like Rudolph !


The arctic tundra much lacks cheerfulness. Summer days last 24 hours, yet the sun remains gloomy on the horizon. For this reason, it is known as the land of the midnight sun. During the winter, the reverse occurs, and the stallion landscape is dark. Reindeer eyes are sensible to ultraviolet light to cope with the long dark Arctic winters and improve imagination .

Tendons and Hooves

As a caribou walk, the tendons in the metrical foot joint make a click sound. These noises help herds keep in concert in specify visibility. They besides have two toes with big claws attached that offer outward. These hooves, as they are known, distribute their weight and provide grip. A process known as cratering is used by caribou to burrow through the snow with their hooves and retrieve food that is hidden .

What Do Reindeer Eat In the Arctic?

Reindeer AntlersReindeer eat mostly vegetation, including grasses, bushes, lichen. birch and willow. Image Credit Jeff McGraw/ There is little food for animals to eat in the Arctic. Reindeer utilize their mighty hooves and antlers to sift through snow and frost and corrode foods such as :

  • Grasses
  • Bushes
  • Lichen
  • Sedges
  • Birch
  • Willow

a lot of these foods get buried by the snow and ice rink during the winter. As a consequence, caribou eat largely grasses, sedges, birch, and willow during the summer months on the tundra. many caribou be active to the wet, northerly woodlands in the winter to eat lichen, which is a plant made up of fungus and alga. The bacteria and protozoans in the abdomen of a caribou break down lichen compounds into sugars that the animals use for nutriment. Reindeer need a lot of food to survive a farseeing winter. A caribou can eat up to twenty pounds of food each day ! For many caribou to survive in the wild, this lichen is necessary .

Where Do Reindeer Live in the Arctic

Female Reindeer Have AntlersMost reindeer live in the Arctic Tundra. Reindeer live in the Arctic tundra ( a frigid unwooded plain ) and the northern boreal woodlands that frame the tundra. The Arctic caribou differs from caribou living in the Arctic. The Arctic caribou, ( Rangifer tarandus eogroenlandicus ), was a subspecies of the caribou that resided in easterly Greenland, but sadly died out in the early 1900s. Greenland is the worldly concern ’ sulfur largest island, positioned between the Arctic and Atlantic oceans. many caribou placid exist in the Arctic. From 60 to 70 degrees latitude North is the arctic tundra. This biome is found in Alaska, Canada ’ s Northern Coast and islands, Coastal Greenland, Iceland, Northern Europe ( Scandinavia ), Svalbard ( an island north of Norway ), and much of Russia ’ s Northern Coast and Siberia. Some people disregard the Antarctic Peninsula and isolated islands off the coast of Antarctica to be true “ Arctic Tundra ” because they are in the south.

Caribou ( Rangifer tarandus ) is the name given to four subspecies of caribou support in North America, which include :

  • R. t. groenlandicus; (barren-ground caribou)
  • R. t. pearyi; (Peary caribou)
  • R. t. caribou; (boreal, migratory, and montane)
  • R. t. granti; (Porcupine caribou or Grant’s caribou)

Reindeer Population in the Arctic

Although caribou hush exist in the Arctic, their numbers have been dropping drastically over the past few decades ; a 56 % drop to be accurate. This is because of a variety of factors, such as poaching, illness, food shortages, and climate switch. Five herds in Alaska-Canada have seen such extreme losses that recovery is improbable. Caribou play a vital function in Arctic ecosystems by helping to cycle nutrients and supreme headquarters allied powers europe plant groups. many caribou herds are in decline around the Arctic. Caribou populations reflect forest health. A healthy caribou population reflects a healthy boreal ecology. By safeguarding its environment, we can not only save this species and a swerve of others, but we can besides do our share to combat global calefacient and protect tundra environments .

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