In the Santa Claus myth, Santa Claus's sleigh is pulled by flying reindeer. These were first named in the 1823 poem "A visit from St Nicholas", where they are called Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Dunder, and Blixem. Some consider Rudolph as part of the group as well, though he was not part of the original team named above. Rudolph was added by Robert L. May in 1939 as "Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer". Rudolph and all of Santa's other Reindeer must have been female, because male Reindeer lose their antlers in December!
We have three residents, Mum and dad and their son Commet. Rudolf 3 years old and Prancer 4, and contrary to the belief above, one is male and the other female! Rudolf (the Male) is 3 Years old and came to Prinknash from the Cholmondeley Estate in Norfolk. Prancer, (the female!) is 4 years old and also came from Norfolk, they were bred in the UK.
Reindeer are large powerful animals that grow to about 4ft tall to the shoulder and 6ft long with antlers that can span up to 4ft wide! The female, cow, normally weighs 200lbs to 300lbs and the male, bull, between 200lbs and 500lbs.
There are two major sub-groups of Reindeer, Tundra Reindeer and Woodland Reindeer. They inhabit large Arctic and Sub Artic areas, including Siberia, Alaska, Canada and Greenland and to enable them to move easily through the snow there hooves are very wide, acting like snow shoes.
The Reindeer of North America (called Caribou by the locals) migrate the furthest of any terrestrial mammal, travelling up to 3100miles. They are very strong swimmers and also able to run at up to 50 mph!
In Lapland they are often kept as pets and also used to provide milk, clothing and meat. While in Finland they have problems with the traffic where over 4,000 are run over each year.
The Parks Rudolf and Prancer are still in the rutting season at the moment and we are hoping to hear the patter of tiny hoofs in the new year!? We will keep you updated of any news through this news letter.