Did you know you can find the only free-roaming reindeer in the whole of the UK in Scotland and more specifically in the Cairngorm National Park, and, in our opinion, it really is one of the most beautiful places in the whole of Scotland!
You may be wondering why are they the last ones roaming free? Well 100s of years ago they would be all over Scotland but due to hunting and likely climate change they became extinct.
They were reintroduced to Scotland in 1952 by Mikel Utsi, a Swedish man who brought 7 of his own reindeer from Sweden and they were introduced into the Scottish Cairngorms due to its arctic climate.
The herd are permitted to graze freely on over 10,000 acres upon the mountainsides with no tracking at all. They only return to the main centre for mating once a year and they choose to do this themselves due to their mating instinct.
We were very lucky to visit the reindeer centre which is located at Glenmore Visitor Centre near Aviemore. You can find the location by visiting the website below. We just turned up and didn’t pre-book when we visited and this was in June and our tour was not busy at all there was only 6 other people on it so it was really great and we got to spend lots of time with the tour guides and ask lots of questions.
Once you have been to the reindeer centre and purchased your tickets, you have to meet at the sugarbowl carpark about 2 miles from the reindeer visitor centre and from here you get a guided tour, usually with two guides for the group. It takes about 10-15 minutes to walk to where the reindeers should be, but you do have to be prepared sometimes they might be located on the other side of the hill so it can be a longer walk if you have little ones.
A few things to know before you go are that these are free roaming reindeers and sometimes they might not be where they should be, so it’s not always possible to visit them.
The guides explain at the start of the tour that are not allowed to touch the reindeers, simply because they don’t like being touched, and this made us happy as it just shows that the reindeer centre take the reindeers thoughts and feelings into consideration and treat them how they want to be treated.
The tour guides bring along food with them, and we were able to hand feed them, by holding out our hands and allowing them to take the food. One thing we didn’t know is that all of their teeth are located at the back of their mouth so they are unable to bite you. The reindeers are so used to people after all the years of these tours, and they know as soon as they see people that this means food!
We then were able to just have a walk around the herd and take photos of them and observe them, the guides at this point gave us so much information and allowed us to ask as many questions as we liked and you could really tell that they had so much passion for the reindeers and what they do.
Every year when the new baby reindeers arrive they have to be named, and each year they have a theme so a few examples of these are hats, so you have reindeers called bowler, trilby and beanie.
What is the difference of a reindeer and a deer?
A reindeer is a deer that originated in the northern hemisphere, specifically Eurasia. Reindeer are typically thought of as a caribou in North America, but they are actually more closely related to the American elk and red deer. In contrast to the male deer, which sheds its antlers annually after mating season, male reindeers grow large antlers on their heads every year. These antlers help for foraging and protection from predators like wolves.
What are 5 facts about reindeer?
- Reindeer are large mammals that can be found in the arctic and sub-arctic regions.
- They usually have a white or light brown fur coat but can also be dark brown, black, or grey. Their hair coats are designed to help them regulate their body temperatures.
- They have long legs and large hooves that help them avoid sinking in snow and ice.
- The average weight of reindeer is 165 pounds and they are around 6 feet tall at the shoulder.
- Adult males tend to weigh more than females but both genders will grow antlers during mating season as part of their mating display.
What does the reindeer eat?
Reindeers in Scotland consume lichen, mosses, and vegetables. They also eat leaves from trees such as aspen and birch.
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