The habitat of the reindeer
From the bitter-cold blizzards of the Arctic to the blistering heat of the summer tundra, reindeer live and migrate through a variety habitats
Reindeer can be found across the Northern Hemisphere, in places as far ranging as Canada and Mongolia. Here, they live and forage in herds in the Arctic, tundra, boreal forest and mountainous regions, feeding on moss and lichen. Most subspecies of reindeer are seasonal migrants, apart from the boreal woodland caribou, which are mostly sedentary. They move between winter ranges, calving grounds and summer ranges in order to find food, give birth to young and survive the varied conditions of the seasons. When food becomes scarce during winter the herd follows the food sources south, sometimes travelling 1,000 kilometres (621 miles). In fact, the North American porcupine caribou travels up to 2,414 kilometres (1,500 miles) in a year, venturing further than any other migrating terrestrial mammal. This means reindeer have to be well adapted to survive the Arctic chill and the summers of the tundra, which can reach 38 degrees Celsius (100.4 degrees Fahrenheit). But they do not make these epic journeys alone.
Reindeer love a crowd as there is safety in numbers, and they spend their lives with their herd. They travel, feed and rest together, with herd sizes ranging from ten to several hundred. During the spring, as they prepare for their migration, they form super herds that can contain between 50,000 and 500,000 reindeer, although the Taymyr herd of Siberian tundra reindeer in Russia contains up to 1 million (a population now in decline due to poaching) and is the largest wild reindeer herd in the world.