Difference Between Deer and Reindeer

The main difference between deer and reindeer is that the deer is adapted to moderate climates whereas the reindeer is adapted to cold climates.

Both deer and reindeer are hoofed mammals that belong to the family Cervidae. Reindeer is the second biggest species of deer. In most deer species, only the male deer bear antlers. However, in reindeer, both male and female deer bear antlers.

Key Areas Covered

1. Deer
     – Definition, Habitat, Characteristics
2. Reindeer
     – Definition, Habitat, Characteristics
3. What are the Similarities Between Deer and Reindeer
     – Outline of Common Features
4. What is the Difference Between Deer and Reindeer
     – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms: Antlers, Deer, Fur, Habitat, Hooves, Reindeer

Difference Between Deer and Reindeer - Comparison Summary

Deer – Definition, Habitat, Characteristics

A deer is a hoofed, grazing or browsing animal with branched, bony antlers typically borne by males. Deer live in meadows, savannas, and various types of forests (tropical rainforests or deciduous, temperate forests, coniferous and mixed forests) all over the world except Australia and Antarctica.

The commonest species of deer is white-tailed deer. Moose is the biggest type of deer. The smallest deer is Southern pudu. The male deer is called buck while the female is called does. The male moose and reindeer are called bulls while their female is called cows. figure 1 shows a white-tailed deer.

Difference Between Deer and Reindeer_Figure 2

Figure 1: White-Tailed Deer

Only deer have antlers. The antlers are the fastest growing tissues on earth. They grow from spring to fall. While developing, the velvet fur on antlers sheds in the fall. Velvet is a soft tissue with nerves and blood vessels. It is very sensitive. The Chinese water deer do not have antlers. The antlers shed in the winter. figure 2 shows an antler with velvet.

Main Difference - Deer vs Reindeer

Figure 2: Antlers

Deer are highly sensitive to sounds. They hear higher frequencies of sound than humans. The brown coat color of deer provides an adaptation of camouflage to hide within the woodlands.

Reindeer – Definition, Habitat, Characteristics

A reindeer is a type of deer with large horns that lives in the northern parts of Europe, Asia, and North America. It is also called caribou. It is the second biggest type of deer. Reindeer is adapted to live in cold regions of the world such as Arctic and Subarctic regions, in the mountainous regions of Northern Europe, in Siberia and North America. Due to its association with Santa, reindeer is famous during the Christmas. figure 3 shows a male reindeer.

Difference Between Deer and Reindeer

Figure 3: Male Reindeer

Since reindeer live in cold regions, they have wide and split hooves that ease moving across the snow. Also, their nose consists of specialized tribute bones. These bones give extra space inside the nostrils, warming the incoming air. Reindeer that lives in Arctic regions have white fur.

Similarities Between Deer and Reindeer

  • Deer and reindeer belong to the family Cervidae.
  • Both are hoofed mammals with four legs.
  • They both have antlers. The velvet fur on the antlers sheds once a year.
  • Both are herbivores and hunted by humans and bears.
  • They are social animals who live in herds.
  • Domesticating both is possible.

Difference Between Deer and Reindeer

Definition

Deer: A deer is a hoofed, grazing or browsing animal with branched, bony antlers typically borne by males

Reindeer: A reindeer is a type of deer with large horns that lives in the northern parts of Europe, Asia, and North America

Species

Deer: Around 90 species

Reindeer: The second biggest species of deer; has around ten subspecies

Found in

Deer: Found in all continents except Australia and Antarctica

Reindeer: Found in the circumpolar and polar parts of Europe, North America, and Asia

Habitat

Deer: Lives in meadows, savannas, and various types of forests (tropical rainforests or deciduous, temperate forests, coniferous and mixed forests)

Reindeer: Lives in boreal forests and tundra

Type of Climate

Deer: Adapted to moderate climate

Reindeer: Adapted to cold climate

Legs

Deer: Has long, thin legs

Reindeer: Has long, stumpy legs that click every time they spot

Hooves

Deer: Pointed hooves

Reindeer: Wide, split hooves that help to move across the snow

Size

Deer: Southern Pudu, the smallest species weighs 20 pounds. Moose, the largest species weighs nearly 1000 pounds.

Reindeer: Medium in size; weighs around 180-400 pounds

Density of the Fur

Deer: Has less dense fur

Reindeer: Has high fur density

Fur Color

Deer: The fur color depends on the species

Reindeer: The fur color depends on the habitat

Antlers

Deer: Only the male deer has an antler

Reindeer: Both male and female reindeer have antlers

Antler Size

Deer: Has long, forked, pointed antlers

Reindeer: Has large antlers in comparison to the body size; the upper and lower points are organized into separate groups

Diet

Deer: Eats twigs, fruit, leaves, grass, and lichens

Reindeer: Eats birch, leaves, mushrooms, lichens, and moss; eggs, fish and sometimes small rodents

Hunting

Deer: Hunted by humans, bears, wolves, cougars, and vultures

Reindeer: Hunted by humans and bears

Domestication

Deer: Can be domesticated

Reindeer: Domesticated for milk and transportation

Conclusion

Deer is adapted to moderate climates while reindeer are adapted to cold climates. Reindeer is the second biggest species of deer. They have wider hooves and dense fur than other deer. Both males and females of reindeer have antlers that are bigger than other deer. The main difference between deer and reindeer is the type of habitat they used to live.

Reference:

1. “Deer.” Sweatshops and Child Labor, .
2. Bradford, Alina. “Facts About Reindeer.” LiveScience, Purch, 28 Sept. 2016, .

Image Courtesy:

1. “” USDA photo by Scott Bauer (Public Domain) via
2. “Rocky Mountain Elk with antlers in velvet” By MONGO – Own work (Public Domain) via
3. “Caribou” By Dean Biggins (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) – US FWS, DIVISION OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS, WO3772-023 (Public Domain) via

About the Author: Lakna

Lakna, a graduate in Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, is a Molecular Biologist and has a broad and keen interest in the discovery of nature related things

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