Caribou

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Caribou - General Description

Caribou is the only species of deer in which both sexes have antlers. Bulls possess enormous and complex antlers. Cows and young animals have smaller ones, and they are not as complex. Mature bulls shed their antlers shortly after the rut. Cows can keep their antlers well into spring.
 Caribou - Pictures
Picture source:
Arctic Studies Center © 2002
Smithsonian Institution

The subspecies of Caribou vary in size. These mammals have short tails. Males of some subspecies are twice as large as females. The Caribou has a coat that serves as lightweight insulation against the extreme cold temperatures. Coat color varies with subspecies, sex, region, and season. The coat can be very dark brown or nearly white. The belly, neck, and the areas above the hooves usually have some white. The large hooves are concave. They serve as good support for Caribou in snow and soft tundra.

Caribou - General Description - Life Span:

Females tend to have longer life spans than males. Some live up to 15 years plus. Bulls live less than 10 years in the wild.

Caribou - Behavior

These terrestrial mammals are known to be able to travel great distances, over 5,000 kilometers a year. These animals are capable of reaching speeds of 80 km/hr. Caribou are gregarious animals that live in large groups numbering to the tens of thousands. This type of behavior tends to be very helpful in summer when mosquitoes and flies bother the animals. Groups become smaller in cooler months. During the rut and fall migration the groups tend to gather again. Due to their keen sense of smell, Caribou are able to locate forage under the snow. The animals use their front paws to dig craters. Caribou communicate through visual, vocal, chemical, and tactile cues.




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