(Canadian Press photo)

Rudolph and rest of Santa’s reindeer are all female: scientist

Only female reindeer keep their antlers for the winter

The first written account of Santa Claus having reindeer was in 1821, and since then most people have assumed the reindeer were male — but a scientist says those people would be wrong.

Andrew Hebda, a zoologist at the Nova Scotia Museum, says while both male and female reindeer have antlers, only the females have their antlers during the winter months.

“Being members of the deer family, the males grow their antlers a little bit earlier and just after mating season, which is just about finished now, they drop off. So over a winter you’ll never see a male with antlers,” Hebda said.

Pregnant females use their antlers to dig through the snow in search for food, and lose them just before giving birth, he said.

It’s most likely, he said, that Rudolph, Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen are all female.

“Any reindeer right now with antlers is a girl,” he said.

New focus has been placed on their gender in part because of a New York City Twitter user’s assertion this month they are “a team of strong, powerful, underrated women.”

The tweet, relying entirely on the antler theory of gender, proved very popular — it has garnered more than 680,000 likes and more than 200,000 retweets.

A Chicago Zoological Society blog post echoes the contention that the antlers tell the tale.

“This isn’t to say Santa only had female reindeer, but the nine flyers were girls,” it said.

“Let’s be honest, unlike Santa, reindeer don’t live forever, so Santa needs both male and female reindeer, no? Because boy reindeer don’t give birth to future generations of magical flying reindeer.”

Hebda says there’s another option — castrated male reindeer don’t lose their antlers.

VIDEO: Have you seen Hammy the deer?

“That’s always a possibility. It’s a question of whether Santa has followed a code of practice for proper raising of animals in castration is perhaps up in the air at the moment, but that’s a possibility,” Hebda said.

Hebda said European reindeer are cousins of the North American caribou. There have been some introductions of reindeer into North America — most recently into Newfoundland, he said.

While Hebda can talk about reindeer gender, he’s not prepared to explain how they fly.

And while many children leave milk and cookies out for Santa on Christmas Eve, Hebda said that’s not a good choice for the reindeer.

And he said carrots may also be too rich of a treat to leave out for Santa’s reindeer. He suggests lichens, leafy greens and dried mushrooms instead.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

UPDATED: East Zeballos placed under evacuation alert as “out of control” wildfire approaches homes

BC Wildfire Service says rolling debris on steep terrain poses danger to firefighters

Heat and smoke raises health risks

Rick Stiebel - Sooke News Mirror Health risks arising from heat and… Continue reading

Victoria police seize over one kilo of fentanyl, guns and cars

Andrew Ritch is facing charges of drug trafficking and firearm offences

Student group seeks cap on international tuition fees

UVic increased international fees 20 per cent for 2018-19

New marijuana regulations questioned

A smokescreen for opposition to legal pot, say some critics

B.C. wildfires 2018: Hazy skies impacting crews in spotting new fires

18,000 people are on an evacuation alert, with 3,000 homes under an evacuation order

Red Cross now accepting donations for those impacted by B.C. wildfires

The Canadian Red Cross is asking for help now and in the weeks and months ahead.

Court rules against City of Nanaimo, fire safety enforcement order denied

Supreme Court of B.C. initially made the order last month in Nanaimo

B.C. program to educate parents reduces ‘shaken baby syndrome’ by 35%

Period of PURPLE Crying was launched nearly a decade ago

Off duty fire chief douses suspicious fire while teaching son to drive

Sooke fire concerned over second suspicious bin fire this year

B.C. golfer, just 23, scores the rare albatross

Six-million-to-one shot a first for the Terrace club

Former Nanaimo CAO Tracy Samra now working for First Nation in Vancouver

Ex-city manager listed as Musqueam chief administrative officer, according to NEB filing

Independent Investivations Office looking into Sayward crash

An incident in which a vehicle under RCMP scrutiny crashed near Sayward… Continue reading

Fredericton widow swears at Trudeau during condolence call

Widow of man killed in Fredericton shooting says she swore at Trudeau during condolence call.

Most Read