Reindeer vs Caribou Best 10 Main Differences Explained

Reindeer vs Caribou

The reindeers belong to the deer family. Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer, is the most famous. The wild reindeer species are present in Greenland, Finland, Siberia, and Norway. In contrast, the domesticated reindeer species are primarily present in northern Fennoscandia and Russia. The physical appearance of the reindeer includes a grey-brown thicker fur, hooves, antlers and long legs. They possess unique noses, helping them warm incoming cold air; therefore, they are excellent sniffers.

The body size of male reindeer is about 28 to 53 inches, and the female reindeer is about 1.7 to 1.9 meters. The reindeer travel as far as about 1,000 miles searching for food sources. The reindeer herds are called siiddat. During the reindeer herding, these animals are used for trade, clothing, food, and labor purposes. The soyot people are adopting old patterns to care for the reindeer species.

 However, an average adult reindeer eats about 9 to 18 pounds of vegetation daily. The reindeer meat is tasty and healthy in nutrition, containing plenty of proteins, unsaturated oleic acids, A and B vitamins, and minerals. Many arctic peoples rely on reindeer for almost everything in their economy, and these creatures have also provided hauling and milk services for some indigenous people. The reindeer mating season is generally between August and September. Furthermore, Rangifer tarandus is the only deer species where both females and males grow antlers.

In contrast to it, the caribous also belong to the deer family. If the animals are wild, they are called caribou in North America. The caribous are found in northern Europe. A white-tailed deer living in North America is an example of deer. The caribous are found in boreal forests in Fennoscandia and Russia. The caribou eat lichens ad fungi during the winter months. There are many caribou living in the Denali national park that can be found across the Alaska range northern sides.

The breeding season of caribou starts from October to November. There are many herds of these species, but one of the largest is the Western arctic herd at almost 325,000. These species are more migratory animals traveling long distances on winter grounds. However, some caribou herds cover a long migration than other terrestrial mammal species. The caribou meat is also a good source of proteins.

Reindeer vs Caribou

 Although reindeer and caribou are the same animal species, they are different subspecies. There are many subspecies of caribou and reindeer in Alaska. Both are living deer species. The reindeers were used to pull sledges across the frozen tundra. The reindeers play an essential role when it comes to Santa Claus on Christmas eve. Furthermore, the reindeer warble fly is a parasitic infection that causes warbles. Despite all these fun facts, people still confuse these animals. There is no need to worry as this blog post has provided exciting facts and information about these creatures as described below;



  • The reindeers possess hooves, antlers and long legs, like others in their family. The deeply cloven hooves help their feet spread on soft ground or snow. The color of their bodies varies from brown in summer and white in winter. Furthermore, the fur is white-colored, while other species have dark-colored fur. 
  • The caribous belong to the deer family. These animal species possess a rump, belly, a white neck, and brown-colored shaggy fur. However, the caribou can be almost wholly white-colored in some areas. There is a short tail, long legs, large, round hooves, and a large snout. 
  • The reindeers are preset in various countries worldwide, including Canada, the North pole in Alaska, Russia, Scandinavia, Northern Asia and Northern Europe. Russia contains the largest wild reindeer herd, varying between 400,000 and 1,00,000. In addition to this, the reindeer species are also native to habitats such as mountains, tundra, and woodland.
  • The caribous are also present in various countries worldwide, including Canada and northern provinces of all regions. They are not present in Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick. In addition to this, these animals are also native to habitats such as mountain tundra and arctic tundra. The world population is up to five million.  
  • The male reindeers can grow from about 70 to 135 centimeters or 28 to 53 inches tall from hooves to shoulders and are almost 1.8 to 2.1 meters or 5.9 to 6.8 feet. In contrast, the female reindeer is slightly smaller, about 1.7 to 1.9 meters or 5.5 to 6.22 feet. The females weigh up to 140 kilograms, while males weigh 240 kilograms. 
  • The male caribous possess a body length of about 1.8 to 2.1 meters, and the female caribous are almost 1.6 to 2 meters long. They have an average height of between 85 and 150 centimeters at the shoulders. In addition, females weigh about 80 to 120 kilograms or 175 to 225 pounds, and males weigh between 159 and 182 kilograms or 350 and 400 pounds. 
  • The reindeers require a proper diet to survive on the earth’s surface. Their primary diet consists of birch, willow, leaves and shrubs of trees and shrubs, grasses, herbs, ferns, and mosses. They eat lichens and fungi in winter and scrap the snow away using their hooves to get it. 
  • The caribous also require proper food to survive on the Earth, like other animal species. These animals eat mushrooms, flowering tundra plants, leaves of willow, and sedges. However, in September, the caribou switches to small shrubs, dried sedges, and lichens. 
  • The reindeers are considered good swimmers. They possess a buoyant coat that acts as a natural life jacket, keeping them warm during freezing conditions. Furthermore, these animal species swim across ice expanses of oceans and rough, wide rivers. The recorded swimming speed is about six miles per hour. 
  • The caribous are also considered good swimmers due to their wide hooves and buoyant, hollow hair. The adults can swim up to speeds of about six miles per hour. Furthermore, the two-months-old calves and adults have been documented swimming between islands in northern Canada, about 1.5 miles apart.  
  • Research has shown that reindeers are involved in the mutualistic interactions with microorganisms like bacteria in their four-chambered rumen of stomach. It allows the reindeer species to break down cellulose that other animal species cannot. 
  • Research has shown that caribous communicate with each other through various means, such as tactile, chemical, visual and vocal cues. In addition to this, the caribou species have a strong sense of smell, allowing these giant animals to find food buried deep under snow. 
  • The reindeers are a very social animal species. They form a large herd consisting of females, adult males and calves. This herding protects the reindeer against various predators. This type of defensive behavior is highly developed in these animal species. 
  • The caribous are nomadic, meaning these animals continuously  move in search of food to survive. They can travel in huge herds consisting of thousands of animals when they are migrating in the spring. These creatures can travel thousands of miles a year. 
  • The reindeers live for a specific period, after which they die. For example, the reindeer can live an average of about 15 years in the wild. In contrast, the average lifespan in captivity is about 20 years. The mature reindeers get matured at four to six years. 
  • The caribous also live for a specific time, like other animals on the earth’s surface. For instance, the average life span in wild populations is about 10 to 11 years. In contrast, these creatures live for almost 21.8 years in captivity. They usually live for eight to fifteen years. 
  • Many animals prey on the reindeer species to meet their survival needs. For example, their primary predators include bears and wolves. Sometimes the golden eagle also hunts baby reindeers. People also hunt reindeers for their purposes. 
  • The caribous also have some predators that need them to meet their food needs. Their primary predators are wolves and grizzly bears. In addition to this, the predators that occur within the PCH grounds are golden eagles. 
  • According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the reindeers are not extinct. However, their populations are declining. 
  • According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the caribous are considered an endangered species. 


Sometimes people get confused and raise questions about reindeer vs caribou to clear their minds. Therefore, the answers to some of those questions are as mentioned below;

Are caribou aggressive?

The male caribou is much more aggressive than the female caribou. The frequent aggression lowers the tolerance of males for other animals during proximity. The females are gorgeous and less aggressive than males. 


Various plants and animals are present worldwide, all possessing unique identification characters discriminating against them. The same is the case with reindeers and caribous. Although both looks similar, differences also exist. But people still confuse them. There is no need to worry as this blog post provides exciting facts and information about these creatures to clear people’s minds. It will greatly if you read this article with great care and pay full attention. 

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