The Reindeer Year
Over twelve months Reindeer will naturally go through different stages of development and growth.
September - November
This time of the year is known as the rutting season, its when the female reindeer (cows) are covered by the male reindeer (bulls).
Males battle for access to females, two males will lock each others antlers together and try and push each other away.
The most dominant males can collect as many as 15-20 females to mate with. During this time the male will stop eating and lose much of his body reserves.
December - January
At this time of year the blood supply to the reindeer antlers retracts which results in them “dropping” their antlers. In the Scandinavian populations, old males lose their antlers in December, young males lose theirs in spring and females’ fall off in the summer.
The antlers start re-growing relatively quickly, usually within a month of them dropping and most will be fully grown by August.
There is variation between the subspecies in the size of the antlers, but on average the bull reindeer antlers are the second largest of any living deer after the moose.
The Reindeer is the only cervid species in which females grow antlers as well as males. Antlers are typically larger on males.
March - July
The colour of their fur varies between individuals and also depends on the season and subspecies. During these months the reindeer lose their coats, which comes out in clumps.
Their antlers are also re-growing around this time, a stage that is called ‘in velvet’ named because of the velvet type coating which covers the antlers during this delicate re-growth time.
Antlers will be fully grown by August and they will be sporting their new winter coats by September, ensuring they look their best for the busy Christmas season.
Reindeer will spend a large amount of time grazing to ensure they build up their body reserves ready for winter.
May - June
This is the time when baby reindeer, known as ‘calves’ are born. The pregnancy is around 230 days and the females (cows) give birth to a single calf.
Reindeer babies don’t have spots on their fur, like most other species of deer babies have.
Young reindeer become mature when they are 2 years old and they can live to be 12-15 years old, sometimes they can live up to 20 years old.