Caribou vs Reindeer – Difference and Comparison

What is Caribou?

Caribou are a species of deer found in North America, Europe, and Asia. Caribou are medium-sized animals.

Caribou are adapted to living in cold, snowy environments, and have a thick coat of fur that helps keep them warm. Their hooves are also large and wide, which helps them move easily through deep snow.

Caribou are herbivores, and their diet consists mostly of grasses, sedges, and lichens. In some areas, they also eat mushrooms, berries, and twigs. Caribou live in herds of anywhere from 10 to 100 animals. The size of the herd depends on the availability of food and the season.

In the summer, herds can disperse into smaller groups or even become solitary. During the winter, herds will join together to form large groups of several thousand animals. Caribou migrate seasonally in search of food, traveling up to 3,000 kilometres (1,860 miles) per year.

Mating season for caribou occurs in the fall, and pregnant females will give birth to their calves the following spring. Caribou have a lifespan of 10 to 12 years in the wild, and up to 20 years in captivity.

What is Reindeer?

The Arctic regions of Europe, Asia, and North America are home to the reindeer species of deer.

The only deer species in which antler growth occurs in both sexes is the reindeer. Male reindeer shed their antlers in late November to early December, while female reindeer retain their antlers until after they give birth in the spring. Reindeer are well-adapted to life in the Arctic.

They are kept warm in the coldest conditions by their thick fur covering. They also have a special adaptation in their hooves that allows them to spread their weight over a wide area, which helps them to walk on top of the snow.

Being herbivores, reindeer eat primarily plants like mosses, lichens, and grasses for food. In the winter, when food is scarce, they will also eat the bark of trees and shrubs. Reindeer are herd-living, sociable creatures. The time of year and the availability of food affect the herd’s size. In the summer, herds can number in the thousands, while in the winter they may only consist of a few hundred animals.

Difference Between Caribou and Reindeer

  1. Caribou are wild deer, while reindeer are domesticated. 
  2. Caribou are found in North America, while reindeer are found in Europe and Asia.
  3. Caribou are larger than reindeer.
  4. Caribou have antlers, while reindeer have horns.
  5. Caribou are solitary animals, while reindeer are herd animals.
  6. Caribou are hunted for their meat, while reindeer are used for transportation and as working animals.
  7. Caribou live in tundra and forest habitats, while reindeer live in arctic and subarctic habitats.
  8. Caribou are active in the daytime, while reindeer are active at night.

Comparison Between Caribou and Reindeer

Parameters of ComparisonCaribouReindeer
DefinitionType of deer that has a circumpolar distribution.Similar to the caribou and is found in the sub-artic, Arctic, and mountainous regions.
DomesticationA caribou is never domesticatedA reindeer is domesticated
MatingMates in the Summer seasonMates in the Winter season
GestationThe gestation period of a caribou is 240 daysWhile the gestation period of a reindeer is 210 days.  
MigrationA caribou can migrate by traveling about 3000 miles every yearA reindeer can migrate only by traveling short distances