How long is a reindeer leg


Profile, systematics, appearance, reproduction, development, way of life, behavior and nutrition. Did you know?


  • Body length: 120-220 cm
  • Weight: 90 - 300 kg
  • Life expectancy: up to 20 years
  • Distribution: Northern North America, Greenland, Northern Europe to East Asia
  • Habitat: taiga, tundra
  • Species population: not endangered


  • Class: Mammals
  • Order: cloven-hoofed
  • Family: deer
  • Genus: Rangers
  • Type: Reindeer (Rangifer tarandus)


Depending on the area of ​​distribution, the body dimensions of the animals can vary greatly. There are also big differences in appearance. While American animals usually have a brown coat, European and Asian animals are more greyish. The fur is thick and long and a thick undercoat protects the animals from the cold. It forms a mane on the neck. The hooves are unusually wide to help them get around the snow and mud of the tundra. Reindeer males and females have antlers - this is unique in the deer family. The male's antlers are larger than those of the female. Like other antlers, the reindeer sheds his once a year. With the males this happens in autumn, with the females only in spring. The shedding is often one-sided, so that the animals temporarily only carry one antler pole.

Reproduction and development

In most of the distribution areas, the mating season takes place in October. The males, who otherwise live as solitary animals, choose several females during this time and thus gather a small harem of five to 15 reindeer ladies around them. With loud rutting cries they court the females. Often there are fights between the males, in the worst (but rare) case they get caught with their antlers and starve to death. After about 230 days of gestation, the female gives birth to a young, sometimes two, in May or June. Shortly after birth, the little one is quickly independent. After an hour it gets up and can walk. Only after 18 to 24 months do the young themselves become sexually mature, with females being able to reproduce earlier than males.

Way of life and behavior

Reindeer are herd animals. They live in huge communities that can contain up to 100,000 animals. There are no fixed structures, so the animals can join or split off again at any time. To spend the winter under the protection of forests, they often hike up to 5,000 kilometers from the tundra to the south. Outside the migration times, the huge herds break up into small groups of ten to 100 animals. Usually the members of these groups only belong to one sex: only females or only non-sexually mature males, as the older males usually only approach the females during the rutting season and are otherwise loners. The hierarchy of the group arises from the size of the antlers or is fought in battles.


Reindeer are vegetarians. They mainly eat grass, young shoots and leaves, herbs and bark - even poisonous plants are eaten. In winter the animals go on long walks in search of something to eat. Often they have to limit themselves to mosses, lichens or mushrooms. Reindeer use their front hooves to get to food sources that are snowed in. They use it to shovel the snow aside and continue digging until they have reached the lower part of the plant.

Did you know?

When herds of reindeer pass by, a loud crack can be heard. This does not come from the trampled branches or leaves, but from the tendon movement of the reindeer legs. Reindeer have been domesticated for hundreds of years. Even entire tribes of people live on their flesh and fur (for example in Siberia).

Photo: © jackmac34 (CC0 Public Domain)