We all know that Santa uses his trusty fleet of reindeer to pull his sleigh through the sky on Christmas Eve. Such an amazing feat makes a lot of people wonder, what do Santa’s reindeer eat?
Reindeer, also known as Caribou in parts of North America, is a species of deer native to both arctic and subarctic regions of Alaska and the Canadian Rockies.
Reindeer living naturally in these regions will typically feast on leaves, grass and lichen. These wild reindeer are also known to sometimes eat the shed antlers of other reindeer from time to time!
But, Santa’s herd of magical reindeer are a bit different to the reindeer you’ll typically find in the wild.
Santa’s reindeer eat hay, oats and carrots (in moderation) throughout the year. But a Christmas Eve feast consists of a nice, carb-loading meal of rice or pasta with vegetables. Santa also packs some extra fruit and veggies as snacks for the reindeer to consume while flying.
Now that you know what Santa’s reindeer eat, you probably have a bunch more questions about Santa’s reindeer, such as when do they eat? After all, Christmas Eve is a very busy time for Santa and his reindeer, it’s a wonder they have time to eat at all!
When Do Reindeer Eat?
As we’ve explained previously, Santa (and the reindeer) leave the North Pole at around 12 noon local time on Christmas Eve, as this enables them to arrive in New Zealand (their first stop in their journey) just after midnight in the early hours of Christmas morning, when all the children are safely tucked up and asleep.
While Santa and the elves refer to it as the ‘Christmas Eve feast’ for the reindeers, they actually begin their carb-loading meal on the evening of the 23rd of December.
Then the reindeers also join in with the celebratory breakfast enjoyed by Santa and the elves on the morning of the 24th of December.
By the time the sleigh is packed and ready to leave at around noon, the reindeer are comfortably full and ready to fly.
Santa will sometimes give them snacks of fruit and vegetables along their journey, but the reindeer are also fond of the food many children leave out for them to enjoy.
Carrots are a popular treat for them – you might sometimes find that the reindeer might not eat all of the carrot you may have left out for them, it’s a very quick stop at each house, and there are a lot of carrots to go around, so they won’t always eat your carrots.
Also, carrots are considered a bit of a treat for reindeer so they try not to eat too many in one night as it may upset their digestive systems.
Imagine the joy on your neighbor’s faces when they discover the treats you have delivered for them! Will they suspect it was you or your family who ‘Boo’d them’? If you’ve played it well, they’ll never know for sure!
Another popular treat often left out for Santa’s reindeer is ‘Reindeer Food’. This consists mainly of oats, which are a healthy and nutritious snack for the reindeer as well as having a low glycemic index helping the reindeer to maintain their energy for the entire Christmas Eve trip.
You can find out more about how to make your own reindeer food here.
How Many Reindeer Pull Santa’s Sleigh?
We’ve been asked a few times about how many reindeer Santa has. He actually keeps a herd of about 30 magical reindeer (in case of any mishaps or illnesses when one of the regular reindeer needs to be substituted out), but he typically uses 9 to pull the sleigh:
- Blitzen and, of course,
All the reindeer in the herd join in the training throughout the year as well as the Christmas feasts and celebrations.
Most of the time, the famous 9 listed above will be on duty on Christmas Eve, but there have definitely been one or two occasions when a substitute reindeer has had to fill in. But, the presents still got delivered, so nobody minded!
Which Reindeer Has A Red Nose?
Do we really need to answer this one? I guess there must be some people who are not familiar with the song and the story that goes along with it – it’s Rudolph, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.
What’s Reindeer Food?
Reindeer food is really any of the foods we’ve talked about above – anything that reindeer eat! But the term has become commonly used for a great treat many people have started making to leave out for the reindeers.
It’s basically a combination of rolled oats (which reindeer love to eat) and glitter, which shines by the light of the moon and Rudolph’s nose, to show the reindeer where to land the sleigh.
It’s as simple as that, simply combine some porridge oats/rolled oats in a bowl with some glitter, and you’ve made your own ‘reindeer food’ that you can sprinkle on your lawn or driveway or any other good place for the reindeer to land and wait while Santa visits you.
You can be as fancy or as simple as you like in your creation of reindeer food, but all you really need to know is that yes, the reindeer do like to eat oats and, yes, oats are really good for them!
Here are some fun ways to make your own reindeer food:
Magic reindeer food recipe from Kidspot
Reindeer food from The Organised Housewife
Reindeer eat hay, oats and carrots (in moderation) as well as grass and leaves. Santa’s magical reindeer are fed a special carb-heavy feast of rice and pasta as well as fruit and vegetables to prepare for their very long journey on Christmas Eve.
They also like to snack on fruit and veggies that Santa packs for the trip, as well as carrots and ‘reindeer food’ left out for them by the wonderful families awaiting Santa’s arrival.