Do Male Reindeer Have Antlers? (Simply Explained!)

Do Male Reindeer Have Antlers

Do you know if male reindeer have antlers? this is one of the questions our readers ask a lot. Well, we´ve got you covered.

You may have heard the story before that all of Santa’s reindeer are actually female—but how can that be true if they all have antlers? Your next question is probably whether male reindeer have antlers at all!

So, do male reindeer have antlers? Yes, in fact, all reindeer grow antlers, whether they are male or female. This makes them unique to most other species of deer, where only the males grow antlers. In addition, reindeer actually have the largest antlers compared to their body size of all other deer species in the world!

The rest of this article will talk about why reindeer have antlers, how their antlers grow, and other fun facts about reindeer and their antlers.

Do male reindeer have antlers?

Yes, male reindeer have antlers! In fact, all reindeer, both male, and female grow antlers. However, they grow them at different times of the year.

Male reindeer grow their antlers beginning in February, while female antlers grow their antlers beginning in May.

Reindeer are also known as caribou; they are called caribou in North America if they are wild animals, but reindeer if they are tamed.

In Europe, they are simply always called reindeer. What they are called does not change no matter whether they have antlers or not.

Read also: Do Female Caribou Have Antlers (Finally Explained!)

Why do reindeer have antlers?

Reindeer use their antlers for a variety of purposes. Most importantly, they use them to find food by scraping away soil and snow to find food hidden beneath.

What do reindeer eat?

Reindeer eat a large amount of plants, including grass, ferns, herbs, and moss, and leaves from trees and shrubs.

They especially love willow and birch trees. According to the FDA’s fun facts about reindeer, in the winter reindeer will eat lichen—which is why lichen is also often called reindeer moss!—and they will do so by scraping away the snow as we mentioned above.

How do male reindeer use their antlers?

Males also use their antlers to compete against one another for mates during rutting season. Additionally, they may use their antlers to protect their territories.

When male reindeer are competing against one another for mates, they will use their antlers defensively against one another.

Older male reindeer tend to have larger, more magnificent antlers than younger males, so often, just the sight of large antlers will scare away younger, more ambitious reindeer.

How big do reindeer antlers get?

Reindeer antlers continue growing from the time they first come in until the time that the reindeer shed them.

Males have larger antlers than females, with their antlers growing up to 51 inches long! The females have smaller, more slender antlers, and they can grow up to 20 inches long.

The older a reindeer is, the larger their antlers will grow. So, each year, a reindeer’s antlers will continue to get larger and larger until they reach their maximum size.

You can tell how old a reindeer is by judging the size of their antlers.

Do reindeer lose their antlers?

Yes, reindeer actually shed their antlers every year. Males and females, however, shed their antlers at different times of the year.

While males begin growing their antlers in February, they will shed them by November. Then, they will not have any antlers until the next spring.

Females, however, will not lose their antlers until the following spring, when their calves are born.

This means that female reindeer only have a very brief period of not having antlers, while males go through the whole winter without antlers.

Do male reindeer use their antlers to fight?

Sometimes male reindeer will use their antlers to fight. Although this is not always the case, as antlers are mostly used for finding food, during rutting season the males can get quite violent while competing against one another for mates.

Although a large set of antlers is often enough to scare away younger males with smaller antlers, sometimes things do indeed come to blows over females and territories.

In these cases, males will use their antlers in a headbutting fashion as they fight. It is not uncommon to see two males with their antlers “locked” together as they move back and forth fighting for ground.

Females will rarely use their antlers to fight, although they will use them to defend themselves and their young against predators and other threats.

If a female reindeer was attacked and especially if her baby was in danger, she would surely use her antlers as a weapon.

Do baby reindeer grow antlers?

No, baby reindeer do not grow antlers. Typically, a reindeer will get its first set of antlers around two years old.

Are Santa’s reindeer really females? How do we know?

Yes, Santa’s reindeer are most likely females! Although Rudolph especially may seem like a male—after all, we do sing that the other reindeer “used to laugh and call him names”—it is simply not likely that any of the reindeer are actually males.

This is because of when reindeer lose their antlers throughout the year.

Remember how we mentioned that male and female reindeer lose their antlers at different times of the year?

Males lose their antlers around November, while females keep their antlers all the way through the winter until their calves have been born.

So, in all the winter depictions of Santa’s reindeer with antlers, they are female! This is because male reindeer do not have their antlers over Christmastime.

Read also: What Are The Names of Santa’s 12 Reindeers? (Complete List)


So, do male reindeer have antlers? The answer is yes! In fact, all reindeer have antlers, which they use for a variety of purposes.

These purposes range all the way from scraping away snow and soil to find food, to defending themselves, to competing against one another for mates and territories.

Another fun fact is that Santa’s reindeer are actually most likely females. This is due to when male and female reindeer lose their antlers, which are at different times of the year.

Female reindeer are the only ones to keep their antlers throughout the winter, meaning that they are probably the ones pulling Santa’s sleigh!

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Lindsey graduated with an MBA in 2009. Since then, Lindsey has worked in the retail and consumer service industry as a manager, advisor, and marketer. Lindsey is also the head writer and Co-founder of Lindsey is based in Morgantown, West Virginia.

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