|Reindeer (Photo by Dawn Endico)|
Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder, and Blitzen.
There is something magical about these names. They make me want to look toward the sky and listen for the sound of sleigh bells.
What’s that? I forgot one? Oh, yes…
RUDOLPH the Red-Nosed Reindeer!
These nine reindeer have been on my mind lately, and they have probably been prancing around in your mind, too. So let’s explore these magnificent creatures called REINDEER!
|Reindeer (Photo by Billy Lindblom)|
So, why did Santa choose reindeer instead of horses to pull his sleigh? Well, it is just a little too cold for horses at the North Pole. But reindeer thrive in the cold climates of northern Europe, North America, Asia, and Greenland.
Reindeer are herbivores, which mean that they only eat plants. They especially like moss and lichen. Reindeer eat up to twelve pounds of food every day. Imagine eating twelve pounds of pizza!
Reindeer are also the only member of the deer family in which both males and females grow antlers. Sometimes the males can grow antlers reaching five feet tall. Holy Cow… I mean, REINDEER!
Reindeer migrate up to 1,600 miles a year from north to south in the winter and south to north in the summer. This is one of the farthest animal migrations on the planet. At some parts of this migration, reindeer must swim through icy-cold bodies of water. Watch this AMAZING video of some reindeer herders in Northern Norway.
What an extraordinary adventure. Did you see the reindeer’s hooves paddling underwater? If you look closely, you will notice that the hooves are hollow. This helps with swimming and digging for food in the snow.
Also in the video, you saw some very young reindeer. Females give birth to one calf a year. And these calves can stand after just a few minutes, and they are able to move along with their mothers by the next day. WOW! It takes us several months to learn how to walk.
In northwestern Mongolia (Asia), there is a tribe of people known at the Reindeer People. Ancient forests are a part of this region, and the Dukha Tribe believes that their ancestors’ ghosts live in these forests as animals that lead the living. The Dukha people live very closely with the reindeer and rely on them for milk and transportation for hunting. Sadly, these forests and wildlife are dwindling, which threatens the Dukha’s way of life. Take a look at these photos of the Dukha people.
If you live in the Seattle area, you there are two places that I know of where you can meet some real-life reindeer: The Cougar Mountain Zoo and Swanson’s Nursery. Ask an adult to check out these websites to plan a visit.
So, let’s get back to Santa’s reindeer – RUDOLPH in particular. I love the story of Rudolph, and if you are currently in Creative Writing Club, there will be an opportunity to buy the movie with your Melon Money. In the meantime, let’s sing Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer together. Click on the video below.
With this new knowledge, what kind of story could you write? Maybe these WHAT IF questions will help you get started.
WHAT IF your main character was a reindeer who wanted to migrate to the North Pole in hopes of becoming a member of Santa’s sleigh team?
WHAT IF your main character lived in a family of reindeer herders?
WHAT IF your reindeer character’s antlers would not stop growing?
The possibilities are endless, and please leave your own what if questions in the comment section below. I’d love to see what you come up with.
So, grab a cup of hot cocoa, a pencil and a piece of paper, and let’s begin. With your imagination, we can go anywhere. I look forward to seeing where you take us.
The word of the day is “migrate”. Here is the definition: to pass periodically from one region or climate to another, as certain birds, fish, and animals.