Do Reindeer Swim, Too?

Fri, Dec 02, 2022 at 6:18PM

Do Reindeer Swim, Too?

Has your car listening routine shifted to non-stop holiday tunes yet? You’re not alone! This time of year is all about fun, festive music — lyrics about the nice list, roasted chestnuts, and even flying reindeer who ensure all of Santa’s gifts make it on time. 

Speaking of those reindeer — we know they can fly (at least, in song). But can they swim, too? Those who love the yacht boat lifestyle may be surprised to learn that reindeer can, indeed, keep up with some of the world’s fastest swimmers when they want to. Just read on to learn more about this multitalented mammal — and where you might be able to witness its on-the-water skills one day.

Santa’s Speedy Helpers

Currently, there’s no scientific proof of reindeer flying, catchy as the “Rudolph” song may be. However, there’s definitely documented evidence that reindeer can, indeed, swim — and fast! Though they’re speedier by foot (adults can run up to 50 miles per hour), they can keep an impressive pace when crossing waterways, when needed: as fast as six miles per hour, in fact. By comparison, that’s about as fast as a human like Michael Phelps can swim in optimal conditions.

Reindeer, or caribou, have athletic bodies and strong hooves that let them propel themselves through the water. But they have another handy built-in benefit, too: two layers of hair, including a hollow exterior coat that makes the reindeer more buoyant, instead of being dragged down by the cold water.

Milk, Cookies, & Carrots?

Many kids may remember leaving milk and cookies out for Santa, and carrot sticks for his reindeers to snack on — but is this what Kris Kringle’s trusty companions really eat?

According to the San Diego Zoo, reindeers are known as ruminant animals — not too different from sheep, goats, and other grazers who get their energy from a plant-based diet. Adults may snack on nearly 20 pounds a day of lichen, willow, fungi, ferns, grass, and other natural, nutrient-packed sources. Not quite as fun as Santa and co.’s traditional holiday offerings — but hey, it seems to be pretty powerful fuel for the reindeer!

Where You’ll Find Real-Life Reindeer

Sure, Santa’s reindeer may be the stuff of make-believe — but they’re based on real animals that can, indeed, be found in cool locales across the globe, such as the subarctic tundra and boreal (aka, snowy) forests.

One such spot is Rovaniemi, Finland, which holds the distinction of being Santa Claus’ official hometown. When you’re not watching local reindeer in action, you’ll want to turn your attention to the skies, where, from August through April, you have a chance of spotting the northern lights dance over the horizon!

You don’t necessarily need a passport to see reindeer, though. The Alaskan forests that line the state’s 66,000 miles of coastline play host to reindeer seeking warmth during the winter, while the spring and summer months see them venture closer to the water. If you ever get the chance to spot one, of course, you’ll realize that reindeer really are as amazing as the songs and movies made them out to be.

Festive Inspiration

If you’re feeling inspired by the reindeer’s surprising swimming skills, why not name your new Monterey Boat after Santa’s fleet? It’s the perfect option for boaters who don’t mind spreading some holiday cheer all year long. Plus, there’s an impressive lineup of monikers to choose from.

Rudolph is a natural first pick, and works great for boaters who like to stand out and be a leader on the water. Dasher and Comet, of course, suggest a penchant for smooth, speedy maneuvers!

They can fly, guide Santa’s sleigh, and, apparently, swim through some seriously chilly water, too! What can’t reindeer do? We hope you’ve enjoyed this fun peek at the life of one of the holiday season’s most iconic fixtures.

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