Back to Nature (Published on TBNWeekly.com - Dec. 20, 2006)
Are they male or female?
On Dasher, on Dancer, on Prancer and Vixen. On Comet, on Cupid, on Donner and
Blitzen! Did we mention Rudolf? Altogether doesnt that make nine?
|This reindeer is sporting a
nice set of antlers.
It is said that each year these super strong and agile reindeer pull a hefty
sleigh overwhelmed with an enormous bag of toys and a rather portly, elderly
gentleman, garishly clad in bright red velvet, around the world in one single night
delivering toys to all good boys and girls. If we are willing to accept this as
plausible, then would we concern ourselves with whether these reindeer are male or
For the past six years a lighthearted e-mail has inevitably cropped up and been
circulated to everyones e-mail list and beyond. The reindeer gender debate
heats up with each holiday season: Are the Reindeer pulling Santas sleigh
male or female? In good spirits, my charming and curious mother-in-law requested to
learn the answer to this perplexing dilemma. Okay Mom, this is a tough one, writer
says with a grin, but Im hot on the trail searching for answers.
An e-mail version of the unsolved quandary: According to the Alaska
Department of Fish and Game, both male and female reindeer grow antlers in the
summer each year (the only members of the deer family, Cervidae, to have females do
so). Male reindeer drop their antlers at the beginning of winter, usually late
November to mid-December. Female reindeer retain their antlers until after they
give birth in the spring.
Therefore, according to every historical rendition depicting Santas
reindeer, every single one of them, from Rudolph to Blitzen had to be a girl. We
should have known this ... Only women would be able to drag a fat man in a red
velvet suit all around the world in one night, and not get lost.
First, what is a reindeer? Reindeer and Caribou are the same species. The
differences being North Americans refer to this animal as a caribou, although in
Alaska and Canada the domestic forms are called reindeer. In Europe, caribou are
called reindeer where the reindeer has been domesticated for centuries providing
meat, milk, cheese and clothing. Both animals wild or domesticated are the only
members of the deer family in which both sexes grow antlers. Other female deer and
moose do not grow antlers.
Adult male (bull) caribous drop their antlers in the fall and early winter.
Females (cow) drop their antlers in early spring. Heres where the controversy
begins. Since the Caribou bulls lose their antlers before Christmas; are all the
reindeer pulling Santas sleigh female? According to the chronological
interpretation portraying Santas reindeer, every single reindeer may be
female. What do the experts have to say?
Growing antlers is a yearly process. Both bull and cows may have antlers that
weigh up to 20 pounds and be up to 4 feet wide. The bulls antlers are large
and massive, branching out. The adult cows antlers are smaller, shorter,
slender and irregular.
The largest bulls shed their antlers in late October, but small bulls and
nonpregnant cows do not shed their antlers until April. Pregnant females usually
retain their antlers until calves are born in late May or early June.
The key word is largest bulls or most bulls. So, according to
investigation, it seems Santas sleigh is likely pulled by at least a few
superbly fit females gifted with a good sense of direction, perhaps an old
gentleman that somehow avoided the violent hormonal perils and exhaustion of the
fall rut and a couple of strong, young, adventurous bulls just along for the joy
Enjoy this holiday season with a joyful smile
back to nature.
Karen can be reached at MyMuddyPawsStudio@gmail.com.