An American Animal: The Caribou

Caribou is one among a large family of antelopes native to the tundra. The name Caribou comes from the Alaskan term caribou which means “in the fur.” The reindeer, which is also called caribou in North America, migratory, usually to tundra regions, central Canada, Alaska, and Baffin regions. This includes both migratory and sedentary populations. The reason for their migration is the seasonal changes in the environment. They move from south to north in search of greener pastures and water Caribou.

Caribou are nocturnal; they sleep on snow-filled mountains or in rocky areas. They hunt for small game, like small ungulates and birds, during the day. At night, they seek seclusion in dense vegetation. While they sleep, their body temperature may dip by up to 25 degrees below normal. Due to their unique physiology, this condition is not harmful to their long-term health.

Caribou are large, strong, and dangerous animals. For example, they can weigh in excess of thirty pounds. Male Caribou are bigger; however, female Caribou may become smaller after giving birth. Their horns are short and thick, but these characteristics are helpful when hunting. However, the short horns of the Antelope variety are dangerous to humans.

Caribou usually build their houses high on snow-covered mountainsides. They have a short, squat posture, short legs, broad rounded heads, high, pointed ears, and dark eyes. These animals are also quite agile. Caribou can run at a speed of twelve miles per hour.

Caribou are nocturnal animals; they sleep on snow-filled mountains during the late morning or evening. In winter, they find a frozen lake bed on which to hunt for caribou. They usually come out in the morning to a thick berry-like bush of the Aspen basin. The animals use this thick shrub as a shelter from the cold. In spring, the animals head out into grasslands. This is their time to prepare for their winter hibernation.

Caribou are aggressive animals; in fact, they kill other animals for their meat. In their natural environment, they live in dense forests. In urban areas, they prefer more open spaces. They can be seen with families, as well as with groups of unrelated individuals. They are easily trained; in fact, some people consider them to be intelligent animals.

Caribou usually have thick hides. Their coats are waterproof and keep them warm during cold months. The animals have a single coat of hair – in females – that covers their entire body. During summer, they use their long, silky hair to protect themselves from the sun.

It is estimated that in the last thousand years, there have only been four documented incidences of bear attacks. However, in colonial times, when settlers would bring bears into town, they were treated with great respect. The grizzly was even honored with a day in the office by the Governor. Today, in many parts of North America, bears are greatly threatened with extinction.

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