Svalbard reindeer

The reindeers on Svalbard belong to a unique subspecies: the Svalbard reindeer (rangifer tarandus platyrhynchus). Svalbard reindeer have a more compact body with shorter legs, because of this they are better adjusted to the extreme circumstances on Svalbard. Svalbard is almost entirely covered with snow during the winter. The Svalbard reindeers rely on the lichens that are present on the snowfree riches. Svalbard reindeer are also able to collect food under the snow. For this it is very important that temperatures stay below zero all winter. When temperatures rise above zero, the snow melts. When temperatures go down again an ice layer will be formed. The Svalbard reindeer are not able to dig through this ice layer so they can't reach their food anymore. In such winters a many of the Svalbard reindeer die. Below you see how a Svalbard reindeer reaches the food under the snow (click on the pictures to see larger images!):

The reindeer digs a hole


Sitting in the hole it starts to feed


It also washes itself sitting.



Then the reindeer lies down.


The reindeer chews all his food extensively


Here you see the reindeer in its element.