Caribou vs Deer
A proper understanding about both deer and caribou would be appropriate to clear or get rid of many common mistakes committed by people, especially in referring these animals. Deer and caribou are popular mammals with hooves. However, there are noticeable differences between deer and caribou in their geographical distribution, diversity, and physical characteristics. This article intends to provide information on their characteristics separately and emphasize the differences between them.
Deer are a group of animals with some distinctive characteristics, and mainly they are Artiodactyls. There are more than 60 extant species of deer described under several genera including Muntiacus, Elaphodus, Dama, Axis, Rucervus, Cervus, and few more. They naturally range in all the continents except in Australia and Antarctica. Their bodyweights vary largely but generally from 30 to 250 kilograms. However, there are deer species weigh less than 10 kilograms as well as almost half a ton weight elk and mouse. Deer are herbivorous animals, and they are usually browsers. In addition, they are very selective about their feed, so that it would be more nutritious. Deer are ruminants, i.e. they have a four-chambered stomach to let the food go through a special process of digestion and absorption of nutrients. They live in herds and browse together, which is an adaptation to protect them from predators, as one individual could watch out for the predators while others are browsing and this way they would know the presence of any predator. Deer usually have a very high reproduction rate, but only the females provide care for their fawns. Most of the deer antlers are long, forked, curved and pointed. These are particularly important in fighting and show-off features of males. Deer are useful in many human activities including in the game and meat hunting, indigenous medicine, and farming.
Caribou, Rangifer tarandus, aka reindeer in North America, is a deer species living in Arctic and Subarctic regions of Europe, Asia, and North America. There has been a close association between caribou with humans, as they have assisted in transportation for people by pulling sleds over snow. In addition, the Christian people believe that a group of reindeers pulls the legendary Santa’s sleigh. However, there are several subspecies of caribou varying according to the geographical localities. Mainly, there are two types of caribous depending on the ecosystem that they inhabit known as tundra caribou with six subspecies and woodland caribou with three subspecies. Caribou is usually a large animal, but the body weight could vary from 90 to 210 kilograms. Height at their shoulders is almost 1.5 metres and the body length averages around two metres. Most of the caribou subspecies have antlers in both males and females. Their antlers are appealing, because of the velvety fur covering those. Moreover, caribou have the largest antlers compared to body size among all the members of the deer family. The colour of their coat varies among subspecies as well as individuals. However, Northern populations have lighter, and Southern populations are darker comparatively.
What is the difference between Deer and Caribou?
• Deer are a group of animals including more than 60 extant species, while caribou is one of the deer species. However, there are about nine subspecies of caribous.
• Caribou is geographically restricted to arctic and subarctic regions of North America, Europe, and Asia while deer is worldwide in distribution (except Australia and Antarctica).
• Deer include small to large sized animals, while caribou is always medium to large.
• Females of many deer species do not have antlers, but most of the caribous have antlers in both sexes.
• The ratio of antlers to body size is highest in caribou among all the members of the deer family.
• Body colouration varies in within individuals of caribous; whereas, it does not change much within individuals of one species of deer.