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Built for the Job

Reindeer are perfectly suited to pull Santa’s sleigh

On Dasher, on Dancer, on Prancer and Vixen, on Comet and Cupid, on Donner and Blixen.
    Why are reindeer the right choice for Santa to lead his sleigh on his annual voyage?
    Maneuvering through the middle of the night with a load of precious cargo for millions of girls and boys leaves no margin for error.
    Reindeer are physically well suited to pull a sleigh loaded down with toys. Males weigh between 350 and 400 pounds; females weigh between 180 and 260 pounds. Multiply the heavier weight by eight reindeer and you have 3,200 pounds pulling the Jolly Toy Maker and his goods.
    When snow and ice pose a threat, reindeer are prepared with all terrain feet. Adaptable footpads that shrink and firm up in the winter and hooves like an ice skate’s blade biting into the ice and crusted snow keep the reindeer from slipping.
    It’s the perfect footwear for reindeer coming to a flying stop on an ice-encrusted roof in the middle the night.
    Of course, reindeer need to keep warm flying at high altitudes for hours on end. With a coat of two layers of fur — a dense wooly undercoat and longer-haired overcoat — they fly through the frigid winter air with a built-in insulation system and the greatest of ease.
    Reindeer also have specialized noses complete with nasal turbinate bones that drastically increase the surface area within the nostrils. Incoming cold air is warmed by the reindeer’s body heat before entering the lungs.
    And reindeer have special night vision. They can see light with wavelengths as short as 320 nanometers, well below the human threshold of 400 nanometers. So they can safely guide Santa through thick fog and snowy skies.
    Track Santa and his reindeer at the official Santa tracker: www.noradsanta.org.