Why Do Reindeer Run in Circles?

February 14, 2024

A mind-blowing video of herds of reindeer circling one another in a mesmerizing pattern is doing the rounds online. The footage was captured by a drone camera on Russia’s Kola Peninsula near the Arctic Circle. The herds, which have fawns in the middle, move in a swirling cyclone-like formation that will hypnotize you. It was filmed by photographer Lev Fedoseyev in Murmansk, Russia.

The amazing thing about the circular herd is that it’s actually an effective defense mechanism. It can confuse any predator that tries to hunt them. According to a PBS report, Viking hunters in Norway were once baffled by the “reindeer cyclone.” A threatened herd would literally run circles around the herd of fierce warriors, making it impossible for them to pick out an individual animal.

Reindeer are a highly social species and often travel, feed, and rest together throughout the day in herds of 10 to a few hundred animals. They chat with each other using snorts, grunts, and hoarse calls. They also communicate with each other during the breeding season and rut. Males grow antlers in February and then shed them in November, while females keep their antlers all year.

These incredible herds can cover 9 to 40 miles daily in the same place and migrate 750 miles twice a year. They are well adapted for living in freezing temperatures, and their hooves make a clicking sound when they move due to a tendon that slips over the foot bone. They can jump to a height of nearly four feet and can swim about half a mile. They are also very fast runners.

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