One Cool Caribou!

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The coolest season of the year is here; it’s finally wintertime! Although lots of animals hibernate or migrate to avoid the chilly weather, there are many forest creatures who don’t mind at all when the temperature drops and the snowflakes fly. We were lucky enough to catch up with Carlos Caribou to get his take on what this new season brings.

Hi Carlos, nice to see you! It took us awhile to hike in here…you really live deep in this boreal forest!
Yes, indeed! In fact, I like the forest so much, I’m officially called a ‘woodland caribou!’ But caribou aren’t just forest-dwellers. I have caribou friends who make their home on the snowy Arctic plains. You probably know them best as ‘reindeer!’

I notice you don’t hibernate OR migrate. Does that mean you ENJOY this freezing weather?
Woodland caribou don’t really mind the cold temperatures. I mean, we live in Canada after all! You’re probably wondering how we make it through the winter without snowsuits. The answer is this: our hair is semi-hollow. It traps the heat against our skin so we don’t get too chilly. Polar bears have the same special adaptation. Caribou also have really wide feet that help us to walk on snow and not slip on ice.

Photo Credit: Tanya Dewey

Wow! You really are well-adapted to the cold! But what do you eat out here? I mean, it’s not exactly like you can get a pizza delivered…or can you?
No, not at all! But that’s okay, because we feast on tasty lichens! Lichens, in case you don’t know about the delightful delicacy that we snack on all winter, are really interesting organisms. They are part fungus, part algae (or cyanobacteria – or both!) and entirely delicious…in fact, we eat over 5 kg (or 11 lbs) of lichens per day!

lichen

One more question: female caribou have antlers. What’s up with that?
You noticed! Yes, female caribou have antlers. In fact, caribou are the only members of the deer family where both males and females have antlers. The male caribou shed them late in the fall, but lady caribou keep their antlers until early summer, after they have our babies.

Woodland caribou are such cool creatures! Celebrate two other wintry friends by getting crafty and creating a snowy owl and penguin!

Accept the Fantastic Crafts Mission to learn how to make these and other cool crafts!

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