Santa's Reindeer Are Pregnant Females, Says Science

by Elizabeth Licata

According to science, Santa’s reindeer are all pregnant females.

Santa and his reindeer may not actually be real, but we all know what they look like anyway. The reindeer are proud and fuzzy and always have big, bold racks of antlers on top of their heads, which makes them look very striking when silhouetted against a rooftop or the moon. Without antlers, we would hardly recognize Santa’s crew, and a lot of our Christmas cookies would look like horses. Santa’s reindeer always have antlers, and according to science, that means they’re most likely all female.

According to Babble, not only are Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, and even Rudolph all female reindeer, they’re all also expectant mothers who are due to deliver little baby reindeer calves in the spring.

Talking about Santa can be a pretty fun and festive holiday activity for families with young kids. Now it is also a pretty good opportunity to sneak some last-minute science and cool animal facts into the discussion, because veterinarian and Animal Radio contributor Dr. Debbie White told Babble that not only are Santa’s reindeer all females, they’re also all pregnant.

Real-life reindeer only have antlers for part of the year. Male reindeer tend to lose their antlers sometime in November so they have nice big new ones ready to go in the spring. It’s conceivable that a male reindeer could keep his antlers until the end of December, but unlikely. Dr. Debbie says that pregnant female reindeer, however, keep their full head of antlers all the way through the winter, because the antlers help make sure they get enough food during pregnancy, and if they had to spend the winter growing new antlers it would take energy away from growing the baby reindeer.

On Christmas Eve, Santa’s sleigh is always pulled by reindeer with full heads of great big antlers, and according to Dr. Debbie, the only reindeer that still have their antlers on December 25 are pregnant females. Logically, that means that Santa’s reindeer must all be pregnant females. To keep the reindeers male, you could always lop the antlers off all your cookies and decorations, but then it would just look like Santa’s sleigh was being pulled by a team of llamas. No one wants llamas on their roof; llamas spit too much.

Snopes reports that there’s one other option for the Santa’s antler-headed reindeer squad: He could be flying with castrated reindeer, called steer. That may not be a tale most parents want to tell their kids though.

A little science can be a dangerous thing where the Santa myth is concerned. One moment you’re talking about reindeer mating patterns and antler-shedding season, and the next thing you know your child wants to know how Santa can fit all the presents for kids all over the world into the back of his sleigh, fit down a chimney, and what is the average speed of a reindeer-powered sleigh.

Even if you can BS your way through the physics of that one, the next thing you know, they’re waking you up in the middle of the night to ask if you’ve remembered to account for the effects of friction and the variance of the wind direction. So maybe don’t get too technical with the kids… just tell them Santa may not be the only one riding through the night sky with a big belly. And no one’s more determined to meet a deadline than a very pregnant female. Just ask any pregnant woman who’s gone over her due date.