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Inspiration / Wildlife / Reindeer

The reindeer, also known as caribou, changes both eye color and the colors of its coat throughout the year. Its coat can even act as a life jacket when they pass water.

Take a walk somewhere on the west coast of Greenland, and you will most have a good opportunity to experience reindeer. The beautiful and elegant animals are especially widespread in the areas around Sisimiut, Kangerlussuaq, and Nuuk. Reindeer are often seen in herds, grazing in the beautiful landscape. In Greenland, the reindeer are actually of the North American caribou species.

The only species of deer in Greenland

The scientific name of the reindeer is Rangifer Tarandus Groenlandicus, and its Greenlandic name is tuttu. For thousands of years, there have been reindeer in the Arctic regions. They have also been part of the prey of the Inuit hunter culture. All parts of the animal are used, either in the form of food or for jewelry, clothing, etc. The Inuit are skilled at utilizing the whole animal, so nothing is wasted.

The hunting of reindeer in Greenland is used as a way to regulate the number of individuals when the populations become too large and no longer have enough food. This is good for both humans, animals, and nature. In the Arctic regions it is very cold, so plants grow very slowly. This also means that it would take a very long time for plants to grow back, if there are too many animals grazing. This scarcity of food would lead to starvation and death among the heads.


How big can a reindeer get?

Measured over the shoulder, reindeer will usually be between 85 and 150 cm in height. The weight will vary depending on the sex of the animal, with the male usually weighing 160-180 kilos and the females weighing between 80 and 120 kilos.

Fun fact: Both sexes of the reindeer grow antlers, which is not seen in other deer species.

The herd mentality of reindeer

Reindeer often react strongly to movement and smells, especially when alone.

They are shy animals, so if you want to observe them and photograph them, getting close to them is difficult. Be sure to move slowly and go against the wind. A reindeer can run very fast at speeds of up to 70 kilometers per hour.

If you experience them in herds, on the other hand, they may just ignore you. They usually feel more secure when they are together in a herd.

Reindeer wear a natural lifejacket

Their fur was formerly used by the Inuit for clothing, as it is incredibly hot. They have two layers of hair, which form a thick and warm coat. The inner layer of hair is dense and thick, while the outer layer consists of hollow hair which is filled with air.

You may be thinking that hair filled with air may not be very smart. However, this is not the case as the hollow hair gives the reindeer an advantage when migrating, as the hollow hair helps the animals float when crossing rivers and lakes. Rumor has it that the hollow hair has been used in life jackets, but we have not tested that theory.