What do reindeer really like to eat (and other random facts)?

What do reindeer really like to eat (and other random facts)?

Christmas is finally here, or almost. We have made it to the final day and the excitement is mounting by the hour. Businesses close, friends and family arrive and last minute shopping is performed with lightning speed. Adults tally gifts, count the seats around the table and check that there are enough brussel sprouts for all. Children meanwhile think only of Santa and his all-important cargo that will be dispensed this very night. If their minds wonder to food at all it is usually just to consider what treats they will leave out for the big man and his furry friends. In this house the current dilemma is whether Santa would prefer a mince pie or some Christmas cake. There is no debate in the Science Wows HQ about what to leave out for the reindeer though, that was sourced in yesterday’s adventure. The children ventured out in the wind and rain, up the lane, through the fairy field and into the little wood with the plentiful supply of LICHEN; Rudolph and his friends will be well fed tonight!

In the spirit of this festive season, I thought it might be nice to share a few facts you may not know about our red nosed friend and her buddies.


Lichen is the staple food of Reindeer (or Caribou); there is even a type of lichen named after them, called “reindeer moss”. Most species of reindeer  also eat grasses, mushrooms and mosses; Just like cows, reindeer “chew the cud” first digesting half chewed food into one stomach, only to regurgitate it, chew it some more and swallow it into another stomach.


Unlike other deer species both male and female reindeer usually have antlers. The males lose theirs in Winter, (usually at the end of the mating season in early December) but the females keep theirs until after they give birth, in the spring; that is why all Santa’s reindeer must be female as they still have their antlers on 25th December!

Reindeer antlers are a bit like human fingerprints, no two are exactly alike! They are made of bone with a rich supply of blood and can regenerate fairly quickly. Reindeer antler growth and regeneration has been much studied in the areas of science and medicine in particular. Deer antler velvet be given in the treatment of such conditions as rheumatism, sports injuries and weakened immune system and is being studies for possible application of certain cancer treatment.


Reindeer are very well adapted to their cold habitats. In winter months their fur grows longer and the hairs of their winter coat are hollow, helping to trap air and insulate from the extreme weather conditions. The fur around their muzzles grows also protecting their airways from the bitter cold air. They can also alter their blood circulation allowing a higher core temperature to be maintained in their upper body.

Reindeer have an acute sense of smell, allowing them to detect lichen under the very deep snow. Their hooves are well adapted to digging in the snow, changing in structure during the colder months to assist in shovelling through the snow, as well as improving their traction on the frozen ground.

photo credit: Paradasos via photopin cc
photo credit: Paradasos via photopin cc

During the colder months reindeer migrate south. In fact some reindeer species migrate further than any other terrestrial animal, clocking up more than 900 kilometres in one year.

Reindeer are the only mammals that can see UV light which helps them detect a number of facts in their “winter wonderland” environment, from food to predators.

Whatever you leave out for the reindeer this year, or at what angle Santa lands on your roof,  I hope that you all have a very happy and healthy Christmas (or with a new phrase I learned “Happy Elbow”).


Christmas memories (a seasonal linky)

Christmas memories (a seasonal linky)

As a child Christmas was always my favourite time of year. As an adult I think it still is… the lists, the planning, the choosing of gifts, the food, the lights, the parties…. and the tree. My husband seems to think that if I was left to my own devises our house would look like an exploded Christmas cracker! I will concede that Christmas may be a time for going a little over the top… from food and festivities to (over) decorating! For me Christmas is also about memories…. The recent ones, the distant ones, and the ones we have yet to make! One common feature in many of my own Christmas memories is the Christmas tree.

photo credit: jDevaun.Photography via photopin cc
photo credit: jDevaun.Photography via photopin cc

My very first memory contains a Christmas tree… it was my third birthday and I remember sitting by it, playing with a newly received present and turning my back on all my little party friends.

For many years as I grew up, Christmas day meant a big breakfast in my Nanny’s house. My Nanny was a wonderful woman with a very big heart and a very small house but she always filled it with family. She had 35 grandchildren and instead of buying each and every one a gift, she would let us pick something from her Christmas tree that she would fill with lots of little trinket. One year in particular stands out for me…. I picked a little satin purse with the image of a little girl on it. That little purse has stood the test of time and every year since has had a place on our Christmas tree. Even now as I am all grown up and have a tree of my own, I always take a moment, as I place it on the tree, to remember the wonderful woman who gave it to me.

Fast forward a few years and I got the chance to buy and decorate my very first Christmas tree. I was in my early twenties and sharing a house with two other student friends. We all decided we had to have a REAL tree to get the full effect and got a little carried away while choosing it (they DO all look a lot smaller when viewed outdoors!). We chose the biggest tree we could find but had to cut half of it away just to get it in the front door. Another few branches had to be trimmed to get it into our tiny sitting room and still more to stand it upright. We could hardly fit into the room with it but oh how we loved that tree. The closest we could come to Christmas carols was a Bing Crosby CD we found so we played it on a loop and danced around the house decorating every surface we could find. Perhaps inspired by my Nanny and her “TARDIS” like home, that little house held many a Christmas party, bursting at the seams with the number of people contained within… and always under the twinkling lights of an oversized, over decorated tree.

These days the student Christmas parties have been replaced with more family friendly celebrations. We love putting up the tree together – we are still getting a very large tree but at least the tree can actually fit in the door of our family home. As the boxes of decorations come down from the attic the excitement increases… a treasure trove of memories just waiting to be rediscovered.  We decorate and marvel at our carefully chosen tree, with Christmas carols blaring in the background and hot seasons drinks and treats to add to the festive fervour. Adding to the Christmas glow is the knowledge that we are creating new Christmas memories for us all.

Every year, as we decorate the tree, myself and my husband chuckle away as we recall a Christmas memory our first born son created for us. When he was one he became truly fascinated with the big tree with the sparkly lights that his parents placed in the corner of the room. Whenever he could escape he would sit under the tree and placing a Christmas light in his mouth. We would turn around to see a little boy sitting quietly, his two cheeks glowing from the bulb.  He used to have such a serene and contented look on his face.

This Sunday we will all go together to pick our tree and spend the afternoon decorating, admiring and remembering. We will prepare for the big event by making our own new decorations to add to the tree, a fairly new tradition we have kept up over the past few years.

Homemade Crystal decorations
Homemade Crystal decorations

Perhaps this Christmas, we will create another new memory or two to carry fondly with us into future Christmases, yet to arrive. Memories are great stories to share so that is why I am inviting you all to share some of your Christmas memories with me. If you want to join in this seasonal linky just write your post and click on the blue button below to add it to the list. There is even a badge (below… just click, save and use) you can include in your post. Of course you don’t need a blog to get involved, feel free to add your memories to the comments below!

If sharing these linky posts on social media please use the hash tag #christmasmemories.


Add the linky badge to your blog post
Add the linky badge to your blog post

I hope you all get to make many happy new memories this Christmas too!

A great Netflix giveaway and some facts about the Madagascar Ring Tailed Lemur

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here and already I am looking forward to the Christmas unwind! Lots of food, lots of family time, roaring fires and plenty of chilling in front of the TV. With the knowledge that Netflix will be releasing a new kids series on 19th December I think we have a least some of the viewing sorted! I am looking forward to this new series myself actually as the star of the show is non other than King Julien… the lovably, all singing, all dancing lemur from the movie Madagascar!

King Julien is here to party, and no one can stop him from ruling with an iron fist … in the air, wavin’ like he just doesn’t care!   All Hail King Julien brings the wild world of Madagascar to a totally original, totally hilarious and totally insane television series in which the king takes on the craziest adventures the jungle has to offer. With a new cast of fantastic, colourful characters joins King Julien himself, along with his second-in-command Maurice, and the eternally devoted Mort. It’s a riot of colour — not to mention a laugh riot!!

To celebrate the release of “All Hail King Julian” Netflix will be hosting a coronation party at the Odeon Cinema at The Point Village on Sunday, 14th December. And YOU could be going too as Netflix are giving my lucky readers a chance to win tickets for a family of four to the “All Hail King Julien” Premiere and a 1 Year Netflix subscription. Woohoo… don’t you just love Christmas?

To enter just scroll to the end of this post and follow the instructions BUT be quick as the competition closes at 12 pm on Sunday 7th December.

While you wait to see if you are the lucky winner you can brush up on your lemur facts with this little infographic…


And here is how you win just click on the link below…. Good Luck!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The competition is only open to Irish residents.


Disclosure: As a member of the Netflix Stream Team I have received a years subscription to Netflix, free of charge, and an Apple TV, for streaming purposes. As part of Netflix Stream Team I will be posting monthly updates on what we are watching and what is on offer.  All opinions expressed will be my own.