I'm sticking with Rudolph

 It seems the “me too” gang will stop at nothing. But that’s often what happens when a frenzy sweeps through a society and no scientific evidence is offered or no legal or democratic process is employed to force objective scrutiny.

Now, its being claimed that  Santa's reindeer are all females. This claim has surfaced every Xmas for several decades; so again we have to reply. Someone from Nova Scotia got this myth going this year. But, he doesn’t seem to know his “stuff”. Lets look at the facts known to wildlife science and some attentive scientists. 

If you wanted 9 critters to pull your sleigh, you’d want heft and strength and speed and endurance, specially given the distances you face. So, of course, you’d go with males. Fact is, the reindeer racers of Finland all use and train males, they get the job done and I figure Santa’s smart enough to know that after all, he’s been around a while.

The antlers that have historically been depicted on Santa’s reindeer are large, and based on my years of observing caribou (the relatives of reindeer) they are too large to be those of females, which are typically single slender beams. Expect some “historical revisionism” to be at play now a days, but it will be for political reasons, and absent biological reality.

An unsavory reality to any male I suspect, is that castration can and does extend antler retention in males. It’s complicated and nuanced, but reindeer males can and do keep antlers into winter. Further, if Santa kept his reindeer in controlled light circumstances and let them out only at night (have you ever seen them at noon?), that too influences antler hold.

Why would you mix male and female reindeer? If you want behavioral harmony, your best bet is to have your team of animals all one gender, or at least mostly one (Vixen seems like an exception?). Neutered males, incidentally, are more tolerant and less competitive there’s no time or energy to spend on squabbling, this might be one of Santa’s best kept secrets!

Finally, it appears they missed this one too; reindeer rarely, if ever, use their antlers to clear snow in order to feed; that is almost exclusively done through pawing. I’d say they didn’t do their homework. So guys, onward and upwards it is, Rudolph, Dasher, and crew…..

Brian L. Horejsi

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