By Dr. Patrick Kelly, DVM, Kelly’s Animal Hospital, Port Saint Lucie, Florida
Christmas is almost upon us, and children have by now finished their Christmas wish lists. I thought it would be appropriate to give parents some guidelines as to how to choose the perfect Christmas reindeer.
Selecting the right family reindeer can be a daunting task. There are so many sources of poor-quality reindeer, that one must do their homework to prevent ending up with a “dud” reindeer. Most sources of reindeer do not allow exchanges or returns after Christmas. Children become attached quickly, and it will become harder to exchange a misfit reindeer even if the reindeer source will allow it. Find a reputable breeder.
The absolute best source would be from Kris Kringle himself. He has been doing this for generations, and his breeding stock is unmatched in quality and temperament. Mr. Kringle’s reindeer command a higher price, but his reindeer are of the highest quality and temperament and can fly. The ability to fly is also something that is only seen in the reindeer raised by Mr. Kringle. Most reindeer cannot fly, but this does not detract from their pet qualities.
I would definitely stay away from Craigslist or eBay reindeer. These tend to be older reindeer with pre-existing problems. Humane societies and animal shelters tend to suspend reindeer adoptions during the holiday season so people don’t adopt them for the wrong reasons. Demand a current health certificate from a veterinarian experienced in reindeer medicine. A good source of names is the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association ) directory.
Descendants of one of his most popular reindeer, Rudolph, are the most expensive. The fluorescent, glowing nose is a recessive trait that is only seen every couple of generations. It is also a sex-linked trait, so only the males have the shiny, red nose. The ability to speak is pure fantasy, folks, so don’t be disappointed if your reindeer cannot speak.
I do not recommend reindeer as house pets as they can be very difficult to house train. The tropical Florida climate is not ideal for reindeer, but one can look for the subspecies Reindeerensis floridensis, which have adapted well to our warm climate.
Reindeer do well with pelleted deer feed and good forage. It may be difficult to find deer feed, but most local feed stores can special order them for you. Do not give candy or table scraps, as this can lead to diabetes. There is nothing worse than giving twice a day insulin shots to a reindeer. Been there, done that, not fun.
I hope this helps and you enjoy your Christmas reindeer. Merry Christmas to all, and a Happy New Year!