16 Difference Between Reindeer And Deer (With Pictures)

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Reindeer/Caribou

The reindeer also referred to as Caribou in North America, is a member of the Cervidae family and a species of deer with circumpolar distribution, native to Arctic, Sub-arctic, tundra, boreal forests of Greenland, mountainous regions of Northern Europe, Siberia and North America. Reindeer are covered in hair from their nose to the bottom of their feet (hooves).

Both male and female reindeer grow antlers while in most other deer species, only the males have antlers. Compared to their body size, reindeer have the largest and heaviest antlers of all living deer species. A male’s antlers can be up to 51 inches long and a female’s antlers can reach 20 inches. Both sexes finish growing their antlers at the same time but shed them at different times of the year. Males drop their antlers in November, leaving them without antlers until the following spring, while females keep their antlers through the winter until their calves are born in May.

Reindeers have specialized noses that help to warm incoming cold air before it enters their lungs and it’s also an excellent sniffer. Their good sense of smell helps the reindeer find food hidden under snow, locate danger and recognize direction.

What You Need To Know About Reindeer

  • Reindeer also referred to as caribou is a member of the Cervidae family and a species of deer. It consists of 10 subspecies. It is the second largest species of deer.
  • Reindeer is commonly inhibits boreal forests and colder regions such as Arctic and Subarctic regions (Tundra). 
  • Reindeer usually feeds on lichens, moss, ferns, herbs, mushroom, leaves of shrub especially willow and birch.
  • Reindeer have very large antlers with upper and lower points (of antlers) organized in two separate groups. Compared to their body size, reindeer have the largest and heaviest antlers of all deer species.
  • Both male and female reindeer have antlers. A male’s antlers can be up to 51 inches long and the female’s antlers can reach 20 inches.
  • Unlike horns, antlers fall off and grow back larger each year. Male reindeer begin to grow antlers in February and female reindeer in May.
  • Reindeer have stumpy long legs with knees that click every time they step. The legs also consist of wide, split hooves that help to move across the snow.
  • Reindeer are covered in hair from their nose to the bottom of their feet (hooves).
  • Reindeer have noses with turbinate bones that give them extra nostril space. The extra nostril space helps to warm up the incoming cold air before getting to the lungs. This makes reindeer adapted to living in colder regions.
  • Reindeer breed during late autumn or early winter.
  • The Reindeer’s gestation period is around 193 to 205 days.
  • Reindeer have thick, wooly undercoats; their top layer consists of longer, tubular hairs. The hollow shafts allow the hairs to trap air, providing insulation to keep the animals warm in frigid environments.
  • Not all reindeer migrate, but those that can do travel farthest than any other terrestrial mammal.
  • Reindeer are the only deer species to be widely domesticated. They are used as beasts of burden and farmed for their milk, meat and hide.
  • Reindeer travel, feed, and rest together throughout the day in herds of 10 to a few hundred.
  • Reindeer can live for up to 15 years in the wild, although domesticated reindeer can live for as long as 20 years.

Deer

Deer are hoofed ruminant mammals, member of the Cervidae family. The Cervidae family is quite large and is generally divided into two: Cervinae (which includes muntjac, the elk, wapiti, the red deer, fallow deer and the chital) and Capreolinae (which includes reindeer, the roe deer, mule deer and moose). Family Cervidae is the second most diverse family after the bovids family (bison, buffalo, goat, sheep etc). There are about 90 species of deer that are found all over the world, except Australia and Antarctica. The most common in the US are the white-tailed deer and mule deer.

All species of Deer have long, forked and pointed antlers except for the Chinese water deer. Male deer have antlers whereas females do not have antlers. A male deer is called a buck but some larger males are referred to as stags. A female deer is called a doe or hind. Bucks and does can be distinguished from each other by the presence of antlers.

Generally, deer feed in open habitats such as meadows and clearcuts, retreating to more secure areas such as thickets and closed canopy forests to rest and chew their cud. Most of the deer species primarily live in the wild for the entirety of their lifespan, the reindeer is the only domesticated species and it can coexist with humans.

What You Need To Know About Deer

  • Deer is a member of the Cervidae family which includes around 90 species of hoofed mammals.
  • A male deer is called a buck but some larger males are referred to as stags. A female deer is called a doe or hind. Bucks and does can be distinguished from each other by the presence of antlers.
  • Deer can be found in various types of forests: temperate forests, tropical rainforests or deciduous, coniferous and mixed forests. It can also be found in savannas and meadows.
  • Deer usually feeds on twigs, leaves, grass, fruit and lichens.
  • All species of Deer have long, forked and pointed antlers except for the Chinese water deer.
  • Only male deer have antlers. Females do not have antlers.
  • Each year, antlers fall off and re-grow. As they re-grow, they are covered in a furry coat called velvet. The velvet is rich in nerves and blood vessels, allowing the antlers to re-grow quickly.
  • Deer have thin legs with pointed hooves.
  • Deer are native to all continents except Australia and Antarctica.
  • The Deer range from very large to very small. The largest deer is the moose. It can grow up to 6.5 feet (2 meters) from hoof to shoulder and weigh around, 800 lbs. The smallest deer is the Southern pudu, which weighs about 20 lbs.
  • Deer that live in lower altitudes breed from late spring into early summer.
  • Deer carry their young for a gestation period of 180 to 240 days. The length of gestation varies according to size. Generally, the larger the species, the longer the gestation.
  • Deer usually have one to three young at a time and these young ones are referred to as fawns. Fawns normally walk within half an hour of being born.
  • Generally, most deer live 11 to 12 years, though many die long before then due to predators or environmental dangers such as collision with cars.
  • Deer can jump up to 10ft high and are very good swimmers.

Also Read: Difference Between Llama And Alpaca

Difference Between Reindeer And Deer In Tabular Form

BASIS OF COMPARISON REINDEER DEER
Description Reindeer also referred to as caribou is a member of the Cervidae family and a species of deer. Deer is a member of the Cervidae family which includes around 90 species of hoofed mammals.  
Species It consists of 10 subspecies. It is the second largest species of deer.   It consists of 90 species.
Habitat Boreal forests and colder regions such as Arctic and Subarctic regions (Tundra).    Temperate forests, tropical rainforests or deciduous, coniferous and mixed forests. They are also found in Savannas and meadows.  
Hooves Wide, split hooves.   Pointed hooves.
Legs Long, stumpy legs   Long, thin legs
Fur color Dark brown to white   Reddish brown to grayish brown.
Fur Color Determinant Their fur color depends on the subspecies and on the location. Their fur color depends on the species and on the location.
Fur Density High fur density Less fur density  
Antlers Present in both males and females. Present only in males.
Antlers Size Have large antlers when compared to the body size. Have long, forked, pointed antlers.
Diet Feeds on lichens, moss, ferns, herbs, mushroom, leaves of shrub especially willow and birch. Feeds on twigs, leaves, grass, fruit and lichens.
Gestation The Reindeer’s gestation period is around 193 to 205 days.   Deer carry their young for a gestation period of 180 to 240 days.
Domestication Can be domesticated and bred for hide, meat, antlers, milk and transportation. Can be domesticated and hunted for hide, antlers and meat.
Antlers Their antlers shed their velvet fur once a year. Their antlers shed their velvet fur once a year.
Predators Hunted by bears, lion and humans. Hunted by wolves, cougars, bears, vultures and humans.
Presence Found in the circumpolar and polar parts of Europe, North America and Asia. Found in all continents except Australia and Antarctica.
Lifespan 15-20 years.   11-12 years.