Jeanna Bryner at Live Science today points out some interesting facts about reindeer.
(Reindeer at Atka Island; Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
Mixing fact with fiction, she argues that all of the reindeer mentioned in stories about Santa Claus had to have been female. Here's why:
Females keep their antlers throughout the winter, but males shed theirs in early December. Illustrations of Santa's sleigh pullers uniformly show reindeer with antlers.
The mating season depletes males of body fat, leaving them with just 5 percent on their scrawny frames around Christmas time. Females, on the other hand, retain 50 percent of their body fat. They'd be in shape to haul Santa.
The extra body fat on females during winter "which can be a couple of inches thick on their rumps, keeps the reindeer toasty in temperatures as low as minus 45 degrees Fahrenheit," Bryner writes. Females again would be prepared for the journey.
Conclusion according to Bryner, "Santa chose an all-female crew."
(1868 Ad for Sugar Plums; Library of Congress Image)