Did You Know? 17 Incredible Woodland Caribou Facts

Woodland Caribou facts about the only member of the deer family wherein both males and females have antlers

The woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou) is also known as boreal woodland caribou, boreal forest caribou, or forest-dwelling caribou. It is a subspecies of reindeer found in North America, mostly in Canada. They are the largest of the caribou subspecies. They are mostly dark-colored with a small mane visible from the fr0nt and have flat-beamed antlers. They have become very rare and urgent work needs to be done to stabilize their declining population. The woodland caribou loves lichen-rich mature forests and are found in the bogs, marshes, or near to any water body. Their range covers half of Canada, right from Alaska to Labrador and Newfoundland. They were previously found in some of the northern states of the United States. The woodland caribou is extremely sensitive to natural or human disturbance or habitat damage, or encroachment brought by resources exploration or industrial development.

Caribou species comprise a significant number of subspecies found across North America. Out of these, Rangifer tarandus caribou or the woodland caribou is found only in Canada. Like caribou they also have distinct crescent-shaped hooves that change shape as the season changes, to make them adapt to walk on snow as well as the soft grounds of swamps and peatlands. These special hooves also help them to dig in the snow for foraging lichens and other vegetation buried under. Both males and females have antlers. Here are some of the most interesting facts about Canada's woodland caribou species (Rangifer tarandus caribou). Afterward do check our other articles on caribou and elks as well.

Woodland caribou

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Tree and ground lichens

What do they eat?


Average litter size?

1-2 calves

How much do they weigh?

242-463 lb (109.7-210 kg)

How long are they?

5.9-6.9 ft (179.8-210.3 cm)

How tall are they?

2.8-4.9 ft (84.7-149.9 cm)

What do they look like?

Gray-brown coat, white fur on shoulders, chests, bellies, and tails with hooves (concave shape)

Skin Type


What are their main threats?

Habitat loss, climate change, predators

What is their conservation status?


Where you'll find them

Canada's Boreal forests, open tundra, and taiga forests


North America and Eurasia





Scientific Name

Rangifer tarandus caribou





Woodland Caribou Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a woodland caribou?

The woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou) is a type of Cervidae or a caribou.

What class of animal does a woodland caribou belong to?

The woodland caribou belongs to the mammal class of animals. It gives birth to offspring like all mammals. The herds of this reindeer species are primarily found in Canada's boreal forests, open tundra, and taiga forests. Predators of these Northern American caribou are wolves, lynx, cougars, coyotes, and bears.

How many woodland caribou are there in the world?

There are about 85,000 individuals of Northern American caribou in Newfoundland, 35,000 in North Mountain, and 200 in the Atlantic-Gaspesie region in Canada. In the United States, these wild animals are critically endangered and are referred to as gray ghosts as they are rarely spotted. By some estimates, there are only three individuals of this species in the country. Climate change and habitat loss have been attributed as the main reason behind the declining population of these animals.

Where does a woodland caribou live?

The woodland caribou herds have a nearly circumpolar distribution range of habitat. This Canadian reindeer species is found only in boreal forests, open tundra, and taiga forests of Canada now. There are just three individuals in the United States, putting the survival chances of the species at risk. These animals live in a group known as a herd.

What is a woodland caribou's habitat?

The Northern American woodland caribou populations love lichen-rich mature forests and are found in the bogs, marshes, or near to any water body rich with wildlife. Canadian reindeer species are found in the arctic tundra region and subarctic or boreal forest region of Canada.

Who do woodland caribou live with?

The Canadian woodland caribou do not live in large groups or herds. They may lead solitary life most of the year and pair during the mating season.

How long does a woodland caribou live?

They have a lifespan of 8-15 years which may be on the shorter side in the wild due to predation and lack of food. They are critically endangered species that are losing their natural habitat rapidly which has threatened to reduce their life span and in turn an overall decline in their populations.

How do they reproduce?

The female woodland caribou reach sexual maturity by 1.5 years of age. The males reach sexual maturity by two years of age. However, the males are not ready to breed till they turn four years of age. This could be because of the hierarchical nature of the herd where the younger male will have to compete with the older ones. The reproduction rate is said to be low. The breeding period occurs from September end to the start of October. The offspring are born in mid-June. It is said the females may return to their original home to give birth to their young ones due to which they are more vulnerable to predation. Also, the calves separate in front of the herd and remain alone till mid-winter. The gestation period could be 228 days.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of the woodland caribou is Endangered in wildlife. They are rapidly losing their natural habitat due to industrial development and encroachment which has resulted in environmental degradation. The survival of this species is also threatened by climate change which is affecting their habitats. Human development along their migration route is also a reason behind their deteriorating population. National and regional coordination are required to improve their conservation status.

Woodland Caribou Fun Facts

What do woodland caribou look like?

The woodland caribou is well adapted to extremely cold temperatures. They have a thick long coat and a blunt muzzle along with small ears and short tails. During the summers, the adults have a dark brown coat, which turns grayer during winter. They have a cream-colored neck region with a mane and a stripe on their shoulder, along with a buff underbelly, the underside of the tail, and a patch above each hoof. Both males and females have antlers but in some cases, females may have only one antler and in rare cases, the antlers might be entirely absent. Their antlers are compact, flattened, and dense in comparison to other caribou’s antlers. They are also broader and thicker as compared to other deer species.

Woodland Caribou habitat is present in Canada's boreal forests and the open taiga forests.

How cute are they?

The woodland caribou are distinctive creatures that are rarely seen these days due to their dwindling population. But they do look absolutely cute and majestic.

How do they communicate?

Woodland caribous are known to communicate with a series of clicks and grunts. They may use visual, vocal, tactile, and chemical communication cues. These deer subspecies are known to have a keen sense of smell to dig out food from the snow.

How big is a woodland caribou?

The woodland caribou is the largest subspecies of caribou in the world. They have a length of 5.9-6.9 ft (179.8-210.3 cm) and height of 2.8-4.9 ft (84.7-149.9 cm).

How fast can a woodland caribou run?

The woodland caribou are known as smart, cunning, and elusive creatures who are hard to hunt. They may freeze in times of danger instead of running faster like other caribou. They can run at speeds of 32-35 mph (51.5-56.3 kph).

How much does a woodland caribou weigh?

The woodland caribou weighs between 242-463 lb (109.7-210 kg). They are the largest subspecies among the caribou.

What are the male and female names of the species?

The male woodland caribou would be called stag or bug, and the female is called hind or doe. Their group is called a mob, gang, or herd.

What would you call a baby woodland caribou?

The baby woodland caribou is called fawn.

What do they eat?

They depend on nutrient-rich lichens found in mature forests. They are foraging or grazing herbivores. They eat leaves of birches, willows, cotton grass, mushrooms, sedges, and other such vegetation available during summer. They can dig deep in snow to reach the ground vegetation.

Are they dangerous?

Caribous are not at all harmful to humans. Human encroachment and industrial development have caused great distress to this already endangered species.

Would they make a good pet?

It won't be advisable to keep them as pets as they are habitat-sensitive species. They need to stay in the coldest regions of the world.

Did you know...

Canada has three types of caribous, which are Peary, Barren- ground, and woodland. These are subdivided by their habitat, behavior patterns, and lifestyle.

A male woodland caribou’s antlers will grow at the rate of one inch per day.

Pregnant female woodland caribou forage for sedges, leaves, and flowers during summer which provides them with nitrogen to produce milk.

Caribous have scent glands at the base of their ankles which send a warning scent to fellow woodland caribou.

There are none of these caribou in Banff National Park.

Why is the woodland caribou at risk?

The woodland caribou is facing habitat fragmentation, encroachment, and destruction of their original habitat. This is happening due to human activities and natural occurrences too. The increase in the population of one of its natural predators, the wolf, has caused great damage to them. The development of oil sands is one major reason for its loss of habitat. Mining, logging, oil and gas exploration, and all such industrial development had caused a lot of damage to their natural environment.

What animal eats woodland caribou?

Fawns are highly vulnerable along with their mother to attack from wolves, bears, and other predators. The other predators for this species are lynx, wolves, coyotes, and cougars.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals from our hippo fun facts and quagga facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable woodland caribou coloring pages.



At Kidadl we pride ourselves on offering families original ideas to make the most of time spent together at home or out and about, wherever you are in the world. We strive to recommend the very best things that are suggested by our community and are things we would do ourselves - our aim is to be the trusted friend to parents.

We try our very best, but cannot guarantee perfection. We will always aim to give you accurate information at the date of publication - however, information does change, so it’s important you do your own research, double-check and make the decision that is right for your family.

Kidadl provides inspiration to entertain and educate your children. We recognise that not all activities and ideas are appropriate and suitable for all children and families or in all circumstances. Our recommended activities are based on age but these are a guide. We recommend that these ideas are used as inspiration, that ideas are undertaken with appropriate adult supervision, and that each adult uses their own discretion and knowledge of their children to consider the safety and suitability.

Kidadl cannot accept liability for the execution of these ideas, and parental supervision is advised at all times, as safety is paramount. Anyone using the information provided by Kidadl does so at their own risk and we can not accept liability if things go wrong.

Sponsorship & Advertising Policy

Kidadl is independent and to make our service free to you the reader we are supported by advertising.

We hope you love our recommendations for products and services! What we suggest is selected independently by the Kidadl team. If you purchase using the buy now button we may earn a small commission. This does not influence our choices. Please note: prices are correct and items are available at the time the article was published.

Kidadl has a number of affiliate partners that we work with including Amazon. Please note that Kidadl is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.

We also link to other websites, but are not responsible for their content.

Read our Sponsorship & Advertising Policy
Get The Kidadl Newsletter

1,000 of inspirational ideas direct to your inbox for things to do with your kids.

Thank you! Your newsletter will be with you soon.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
No items found.
No items found.