The Brits have taken a liking to a picture of a 'laughing' Finnish white forest reindeer (Rangifer tarandus fennicus), causing a photo by tourism portal Visit Finland to spread rapidly on social media.
White reindeer rare
Yle asked Jouko Kumpula, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), how many white reindeer are in fact wandering around Lapland’s fells.
”For every one hundred reindeer born, it’s unlikely one will be completely white,” he explained, adding that there may be a snow-white individual in a group of a few hundred animals.
White reindeer are also usually female, according to Kumpula.
”White reindeer aren’t necessarily albinos, they are the result of colour mutations. An albino reindeer will have pink eyes, nails and skin, and are far rarer than the white ones,” he said.
Lazy white Rudolph
Tourists may like white reindeer, but their innate laziness doesn't always endear them to the herd.
”They’ve been said to be calmer and sleepier. White calves sleep more deeply than their traditionally-coloured counterparts,” Kumpula said, adding that sleepiness is not a great attribute for reindeer tasked with pulling loaded sleds.
White reindeer are easy targets for predators in the summer months.