1. Okay, let’s start with the basics: Reindeer are super cute.
Just look at that chest fluff and those baby antlers and try not to cry from the cute.
I mean, really. A baby reindeer is enough to make you melt.
Just look at those lil toes!
2. Oh, and also? Their eyes change color with the FREAKIN’ SEASONS.
See, their eyes change from a golden green in the summer to a blue in the winter in order to help them see with the lack of sunlight. I bet YOUR EYES don’t do that, do they?
3. Reindeer are so tough that even in the summer they prefer to keep it cool.
When grazing in their native Lapland region (the Arctic north of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Northwest Russia) reindeer tend to migrate vertically in the summer, meaning that they go up into the mountains to find cooler temperatures. When the rest of us would be thrilled to have a break from the harsh Finnish cold, reindeer have no interest in those shenanigans.
4. One of the (many) reasons they’re so tough? Reindeer fur is specially designed to be as warm as physically possible.
“The hair of the reindeer is hollow, so there is air between the hairs and also inside the hair, and their winter coat is really thick,” said Mari Heikkila, director of Ranua Wildlife Park in Finland, in an interview with the Associated Press.
5. Their hooves also splay out, making it easier for them to walk in deep snow without sinking in.
Then, with splayed hooves, they can run through the snow like the majestic beasts they are.
RUN, YOU GLORIOUS BEAST, YOU.
6. Another useful fact? It’s physically impossible for a reindeer to pee and walk at the same time, making them stop fairly often. This wouldn’t be very exciting info except for the fact that…
So graceful, so unable to pee at that moment.
…reindeer stop so regularly to pee that the Sami people (who inhabit the reindeer-full area of the world) have a term of measurement for the six-mile interval reindeer travel between pees. It is “poronkusema.”
“Poronkusema” is translated to mean “a reindeer’s piss.”
7. And, speaking of reindeer pee, a legend surrounding it is supposedly the source of the flying-reindeer story.
Rumor has it, the Sami shamans would feed hallucinogenic mushrooms to reindeer, and then they would drink their urine.
The resulting high would cause them to see crazy things… things that included, but were not limited to, reindeer flying.
Another version of the story involves feeding the reindeer mushrooms then eating their meat in order to consume the hallucinogenic substance.
Whether or not any of that is accurate, it’s safe to say that there are some crazy theories going on regarding shrooms, reindeer, and those Samis.
8. Regardless of mushroom involvement, one part of the Santa story is true: there needs to be a leader of the pack.
Reindeer groups migrating follow one designated leader, making Rudolph’s role very necessary for the flying reindeer to move efficiently.
9. Reindeer are known for moving very quickly over great distances.
Pulling a sleigh full of presents or not, they need someone to direct them so that they can move easily.