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February 24, 2011 Reindeer vs. Caribou

I found the answer to my question about the differences between Reindeer and Caribou! Special thanks to George from the Reindeer Research Program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

George holding reindeer skull
George from the University of Alaska Fairbanks holding reindeer skull

Reindeer and Caribou Similarities:

  • Are the same species but are classified as two different subspecies.
  • Have long, coarse hair with hollow cores which keeps them insulated in the colder climates - although reindeer fur is thicker and denser.
  • Have specialized hooves that are adapted for walking in snow and digging.
  • Are similar in color - however Reindeer may be slightly lighter.
  • Grow antlers - in both male and female.
Reindeer at the UAF Reindeer Research Program
Reindeer and the UAF Reindeer Research Program

Reindeer and Caribou Differences

  • Reindeer are semi-domesticated - Caribou are wild.
  • Reindeer are shorter, fatter and slower - Caribou are taller (have longer legs), slimmer, and faster.
  • Caribou bulls (males) are larger than Reindeer bulls - but Caribou cows (females) and Reindeer cows weigh about the same.
  • Female Reindeer grow larger antlers than female Caribou.
  • Reindeer tend to stay with their heard when chased - Caribou scatter when chased.
  • The nose bridge, or face, of the Reindeer is flatter than Caribou.
Alex holding reindeer antler
Alex holding reindeer antler

The above information was taken from Reindeer Roundup!

Photos

Alex holding reindeer antler
George holding reindeer skull
Reindeer at the UAF Reindeer Research Program
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Details

Alex Eilers's picture
Author: Alex Eilers
Expedition: Weddell Seals in the Ross Sea