Sat. Mar 2nd, 2024
Rudolph the red nose... Caribou?  - Parks Blog

“Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer
He had a very shiny nose.
And if you ever saw it
You would even say that it shines…”

We’ve all heard the famous Christmas carol about Rudolph and his “very bright nose.”

But did you know that Rudolph and the other reindeer pulling Santa’s heavy sleigh are actually caribou?

A species that surrounds the arctic

Reindeer is another name for caribou (fenced rangefer). The name Reindeer refers to the European and Asian caribou that live in northern Scandinavia and Russia.

Caribou can also be found in North America. This includes Northern Ontario!

Caribou, elk, and white-tailed deer belong to the deer family. cervids. Our North American caribou are actually deer with long legs and large hooves. These features help them move through snowy habitats.

All members of the deer family grow a new pair of antlers each year. Typically, only males sport antlers, but caribou are the exception. Both male and female caribou grow a new set of antlers each year.

Rudolph’s southern family members.

Santa’s “caribou” frequent the North Pole and the Arctic tundra. But caribou can also be found much further south.

In Ontario, they live in the boreal forest region, including Wabakimi Provincial Park and (you guessed it) Woodland Caribou Provincial Park. These “woodland caribou” are forest dwellers and live in boreal coniferous forests.

Woodland Caribou Provincial Park aerial shot of forests and lakesWoodland Caribou Provincial Park

Caribou have very large legs. They use their hooves to scrape snow and ice off the food underneath. The large feet also provide good traction, useful for pulling Santa’s heavy sleigh and making it fly! If you’re at a Christmas event this season and see live reindeer on display, notice how enormous their legs really are.

See also  The polar bear: Ontario's arctic giant

Rudolph the red-nosed caribou

Caribou can be a good option to help Santa make his important deliveries on Christmas Eve. However, they are equally well adapted to living in Northern Ontario the other 364 days of the year!