How to Care for Santa’s Reindeer
By Guest Writer Sugar-Plum the Elf
Can you believe it’s almost Christmas? We’ve been getting busier and busier here at the North Pole, but it’s such an exciting time that I never feel stressed.
My name is Sugar-Plum, but you can call me Shugs. I am the head of Reindeer Relations for Santa, and it is my job to make sure all the reindeer are happy and healthy year-round.
They’re out on the training field now, so it’s the perfect time for me to take a moment and tell you about how we care for Santa’s fleet of flying reindeer.
What Do Santa’s Reindeer Eat?
Did you know reindeer are herbivorous? That means they are vegetarians and only eat plants. I’m a vegetarian too! If you consider candy and cookies plants. Santa’s reindeer can eat up to 18 pounds of vegetables and plants each day. Multiply that by all 9 reindeer and we go through almost 60,000 pounds of our special reindeer food each year.
Our reindeer blend is a mix of mosses, grasses, and leaves from willow trees (Dasher’s favorite tree). We make their food by hand every day and blend everything together, so they get a good mix of minerals and nutrients.
We know there are rumors flying around down south that reindeer love carrots, but they actually don’t eat them very often. It’s not that they don’t like carrots, but they weren’t really made for eating them. They don’t have the right teeth, and can have trouble digesting them. Some of Santa’s reindeer love carrots and have no self-control (I’m looking at you, Prancer), so they will snack on carrots whenever they can even though they know it will give them a tummy ache.
If you want to leave a treat for Santa’s reindeer, they love oatmeal cookies! If you make a recipe like the dog-friendly oatmeal cookie recipe in this article they will be very grateful. Plus, it will help refuel them on their long journey. If you can’t bake them cookies, any vegetarian dog-treat or horse treat will be appreciated on Christmas Eve.
But don’t worry, Santa is stocked with snacks, treats, and water on Christmas Eve, so the reindeer have everything they need to get all the deliveries made.
How Do Santa’s Reindeer Exercise?
Santa’s reindeer are unique. Because they have such a demanding job, they train for several hours every day throughout the year. They are always in peak physical form and love to run and fly. Sometimes, they have too much energy and we must take them on practice runs for their global trip. It not only gives them practice for the big night, but it helps them get all the nervous jitters out. Have you ever had so much energy you just had to run and play for a while to feel better? The reindeer do too.
Every morning after breakfast, the reindeer go out to wander and hike. They love to wander the forests and mountains of the North Pole and often take walks together or go on runs.
In the afternoon, they have physical training where they train as a unit led by the head reindeer. They have special drills that keep them agile, and they practice working together. Then, in the evenings before dinner they spend time on their own.
Most of them choose to fly and they love to play tag in the sky. I adore watching them play and listening to the bells on their harnesses jingle as they fly above me. It’s my favorite part of the job.
How Do Reindeer Have Fun?
Once a year, we host a big festival called the Reindeer Games! The reindeer love it and become extremely competitive. They’re all best friends, but when it’s time for the Reindeer Games, they turn into serious athletes.
Some of the games are one-on-one, and others are in teams so the reindeer have to work together. They race and fly through obstacles, but they also have logic challenges where they figure out solutions to problems that sometimes pop up on Christmas Eve.
It’s always a lot of fun, and the elves take the day off to cheer on the reindeer. The winner earns the right to lead the sleigh on Christmas Eve as head reindeer.
Do They Ever Get Sick or Injured?
Santa’s reindeer are in tip-top shape. They have weekly checkups with a veterinarian who makes sure they are feeling good and strong. They rarely get injured and almost never call out sick.
The combination of a healthy diet and lots of exercise keeps them fit, and their regular vet visits are preventative, so they rarely have a health issue. However, if one ever does get hurt or sick, our team is the best at making them feel better fast. They are put on light duty and get loads of rest before rejoining their friends in training.
How Do Santa’s Reindeer Fly?
That is a closely guarded secret!
Santa’s reindeer are very special, and their ability to fly comes from a little Christmas magic, a pinch of holiday spirit, and a lot of goodwill from the believers out there! Maybe one day Santa will share the whole secret with me, but until then, it’s nice to know the magic is strong and keeping the reindeer in the air.
Well, the afternoon drills are almost done, and I need to get back to work! They’re going to be thirsty when they get back to the barn, so I’m going to make sure they all have some fresh water and a nice big snack to refuel while they relax before their evening flight.
I’ll be traveling with Santa this year to make sure the reindeer have everything they need on the journey, and I can’t wait to visit everyone. Merry Christmas from the North Pole!