What Do Reindeer Eat

What do reindeer eat? We all know that Santa likes cookies and milk for a snack as he travels from house to house, but what about those hard-working reindeer? Surely Santa's reindeer must get hungry, pulling that heavy sleigh filled with toys! If you'd like to leave a little something for Santa's reindeer to eat for their long flight around the world, read on to learn about the eating habits of reindeer.

The Reindeer Diet
In the wild, reindeer live in the cold arctic tundra, where the land is constantly frozen and mostly barren. Food is hard to come by in such a climate. The only vegetation that can survive in such extreme cold is some hardy shrubs and grasses. Reindeer will eat these shrubs and grasses, along with a type of lichen commonly known as Reindeer Moss.

The reindeer diet changes with the seasons; during the winter, there is no plant life at all, and the reindeer must sustain themselves solely on lichen. They often must dig through quite a bit of snow to get to the lichen. As spring arrives, and the grasses and shrubs return, the reindeer are able to enjoy a more varied diet.

In captivity, reindeer have adapted to a diet that is quite different than what is available to them in the wild. They are typically fed hay, alfalfa and commercial deer food. They also enjoy grazing on available grasses and other vegetation. They are quite fond of willow and birch trees, and will even snack on leafy weeds such as dandelions.

Feeding Santa's Reindeer
So what kind of snack should you leave for Santa's reindeer to eat on Christmas Eve? Well, we would assume that since Santa's reindeer are not left to forage in the wild, they are accustomed to a varied diet. Try leaving out some leafy greens, or even a carrot or apple for a sweet treat. There are also many recipes available online for making special holiday reindeer feed. Whatever you choose to leave for them, the reindeer are sure to appreciate the snack while on their long journey with Santa.  

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