Cool Reindeer Facts You Didn’t Know

Eenie meenie miney doe, how many reindeer facts do you know?

You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen. But do you recall, the biology of them all? You’ve probably heard this song before, but have you heard the science behind Santa’s fluffy helpers?

 

A reindeer by any other name could still pull a sleigh

What exactly is a reindeer? These animals are part of the deer family, or Cervidae, which includes deer, elk, moose, and wapiti. Reindeer are also commonly known as caribou. This classification is primarily based on location, or habitat. Reindeer refers to the domesticated animal, while caribou refers to the wild animal.

Female reindeer are slaying it!

Scientists have observed that male reindeer shed their antlers in early December after mating season, while female reindeer keep their antlers all year. This means that if the reindeer spotted pulling Santa’s sleigh on December 24 have antlers, they must be females, as males would have already shed their antlers.

The cold never bothered them anyway

Why does Santa have a reindeer-drawn sleigh instead of a horse-drawn carriage? Reindeer are native to cold climates like Alaska, Canada, and Scandinavia and have adapted to the cold. A reindeer’s fur is made up of hollow hairs that trap in air and keep them well-insulated. They are also the only animal to have hair completely cover their noses. This helps warm up the cold air they breathe before it reaches their lungs.

The real red-nosed reindeer

You may remember Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and his shiny schnoz. Scientists say that having a rosy nose is not only possible but common in Santa’s furry friends. Reindeer have 25% more blood vessels in their nose than humans. This helps keep their noses warm, which allows them to warm up the frigid air before they breathe it in. Exposure to extreme cold, or exercise increases blood flow, and with so many extra blood vessels in their noses, they can turn a light rosy color.

Eye on the prize

Reindeer have also adapted to see ultraviolet light. While humans are no strangers to ultraviolet light, we are unable to see it. UV rays are commonly known to cause sunburn or snow blindness by reflecting brightly off of the white snow. Reindeer, however, have adapted the ability to these wavelengths. This not only protects their eyes but allows them to better see food or other animals camouflaged in the snow.

So next time you hear the pitter-patter of hooves on your roof, remember it’s no coincidence that Santa uses these gentle giants to pull his sleigh. Reindeer have adapted to weather their frosty environment and help deliver Christmas cheer all over the world.

5 Way To Go Green This Holiday Season

'Tis the season of red and green, but how green are you actually being? Americans create 25% more waste from Thanksgiving to New Year’s than any other time of year. That’s an extra 1 million tons of trash per week! Here are a few ways you can go green this holiday season without looking like the Grinch!

That’s a wrap on wrapping paper!

 

It’s a common misconception that wrapping paper can be recycled simply because it’s paper. However, coated, glittery, and textured paper materials cannot. When these unrecyclable materials get mixed in with recyclable products, it can result in the whole lot being thrown away. Instead, try using paper materials like newspapers, old maps, comics, or make your own!

Out with the old and in with the new

 

When you upgrade to new tech, don’t just toss out your old devices, recycle them! A United Nations study reported that 44.7 million tons of e-waste was discarded in 2016, and only 20% of it was disposed of properly. Here are some easy ways you can recycle, or donate and make a difference:

 

Call2Recycle is a nationwide organization that recycles old devices and batteries. You can simply mail in old tech without leaving your house, or enter your zip code to find a convenient location near you!

 

Does your old phone still function? The World Computer Exchange is a nonprofit organization that works to get developing countries into the digital age. They accept everything from computers to graphing calculators.   

Sew what else can I do?

 

Handmade gifts are a great way to show someone how you feel without creating excess waste. From bath bombs to jewelry making, you can’t go wrong with a personal touch.

 

Upcycling is another great way to save the planet and a little money. Old board games are a great way to customize a picture frame. Or grab some old clothing and embroider an embellishment.

embroidered jacket

Last but not leftovers

 

According to the WorldWatch Institute, Americans generate three times as much food waste between Thanksgiving and New Year’s as we do the rest of the year. Resolve to go green this year, by starting a compost! Are you a local? The City of Orlando will help you get started for free!

 

Composting is not as difficult or as disgusting as you might think! It can divert up 30% of food waste from a landfill and back into healing the Earth while offering a natural alternative to chemical fertilizers. Here is a simple step-by-step guide to creating your compost starting with the end of your Christmas tree!

Think outside the plastic box

 

Tired of giving gifts that will be outgrown or outdated in a few months? This holiday season, ditch the plastic packaging and gift an experience. You can avoid creating excess waste by gifting tickets to movies or events, certificates for chores or date night, gift cards that can be reloaded and re-gifted, or gift a membership to a favorite theme park or science center!