Reindeer / Rangifer tarandus

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Reindeer can run at speeds of up to 75 kilometres per hour

They are the only mammals able to see ultraviolet light. This is thought to help them see better in their white, featureless, winter world

They are known as reindeer in Europe, but their North American name is caribou

Reindeer pelt consists of a dense woolly undercoat and longer-haired overcoat consisting of hollow, air-filled hairs. This 5cm thick layer is one of the best insulators among mammal fur.

They have relatively short ears, tails and legs which reduces the amount of body heat lost.

The colour of the fur coat varies but it is mainly grey with white under parts. The winter coat is paler to aid camouflage. The feet have broad, flat, deeply cloven hooves, which help when walking on snow and soft ground.

Both male and female reindeer have antlers which can grow up to an impressive 1.2 metres.

Males shed their antlers in December and January, while females retain them during the winter months, using them to scrape snow from food sources and to protect food from other animals, and shed theirs in the summer.

Mating occurs from late September to early November, a period known as the rut.

Males battle for access to females during which time they will lock antlers in an attempt to push each other away. They stop eating during this time and lose much of their body reserves.

Calves may be born the following May or June. After 45 days, the calves are able to graze and forage.

Reindeer are herbivores known as ruminants meaning they have four chambers to the stomach.

Ruminants chew the cud and use micro-organisms in the stomach to digest the cellulose in plants such as lichen, willow and birch.