Monday, December 3, 2007
The reindeer, known as caribou when wild in North America, is an Arctic and Subarctic-dwelling deer (Rangifer tarandus).
The name Caribou comes from Mi'kmaq qalipu, meaning "snow-shoveler", referring to its habit of pawing through the snow for food. In Inuktitut the caribou is known by the name tuttuk (Labrador dialect).
The reindeer is distributed throughout a number of northern locales. Reindeer are found in northern Scandinavia; at Spitsbergen; in European parts of Russia including northern Russia and Novaya Zemlya; in the Asian parts of Russia; northern Mongolia; northeastern China to the Pacific Ocean; in North America (where it is called the caribou); on Greenland, Canada and Alaska. Until the early 19th century it still occurred in southern Idaho.
The weight of a female varies between 60 and 170 kg (132 - 375 lb). In some subspecies of reindeer, the male is slightly larger; in others, the male can weigh up to 300 kg (661 lb). Both sexes grow antlers, which (in the Scandinavian variety) for old males fall off in December, for young males in the early spring, and for females, summer. The antlers typically have two separate groups of points (see image), a lower and upper. Domesticated reindeer are shorter-legged and heavier than their wild counterparts. The caribou of North America can run at speeds up to 80 km/h (50 MPH) and may travel 5,000 km (3,000 mi) in a year.
In the wild, most caribou migrate in large herds between their birthing habitat and their winter habitat. Their wide hooves help the animals move through snow and tundra; they also help propel the animal when it swims. About 1 million live in Alaska, and a comparable number live in northern Canada....(more on www.wikipedia.com)