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What Do Santa's Reindeer Eat? A Veterinarian Explains

Santa gets milk and cookies, but what about Rudolph?

You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen; Comet, and Cupid, and Donner, and Blitzen... you also clearly recall Rudolph, the most famous reindeer of all. The nine noble steads spend all of Christmas Eve hauling toys and the big guy all across the globe, but what do Santa’s reindeer eat? They need plenty of fuel for their journey, after all.

One of my family’s most beloved traditions is to leave out a tray of cookies and a glass of milk out for Santa to snack on each Christmas Eve. We have a whole setup with a fancy, decorative platter and an antique Christmas glass. But if Santa’s reindeer are doing all of the heavy lifting, shouldn’t they get the same five-star treatment? Or at the very least a handful of oats sprinkled on the ground?

What Can A Reindeer Eat?

Just like dogs and cats, reindeer are animals and they need to eat a proper diet to stay healthy. If you’ve ever wondered what reindeer eat while they gear up for the busiest night of the year, Dr. Danielle Bernal a veterinarian with Wellness Natural Pet Food gave Romper the scoop.

“Reindeer are naturally very healthy eaters,” Bernal tells Romper. “As a herbivore — an animal who only eats plants — reindeer simply love their veggies and when at the North Pole, they will often graze for most of their day on wild grasses, hay, leafy greens, shrubs, mushrooms, berries, and sage.”

As it turns out, eating is actually the activity that reindeer love most — aside from guiding Santa’s sleigh, of course. Bernal explains that these adorable creatures really love to eat and actually spend most of the days at the North Pole grazing on their favorite veggies. “In just one day, they can eat up to 18 pounds of vegetation to ensure they’ll have all the energy and stamina they’ll need leading up to their big night on Christmas with Santa.”

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What To Leave Out For Reindeer On Christmas Eve

Similar to household pets, Santa’s reindeer really enjoy a special treat now and then and Christmas Eve is the perfect time to give them the gift of a fun snack to enjoy with Santa. But here’s the thing, you can’t just feed a reindeer any old thing.

“When it comes to Christmas, carrots, apples, and oats are like special candy treats for Santa’s reindeer, and best of all, they are good for them, too,” Bernal tells Romper. “Now, don’t worry if your home also doesn’t have somewhere safe where you can leave these, as these perfect reindeer snacks can be easily brought back to the sleigh by Santa for Dasher, Prancer, Blitzen, and the rest of his reindeer to eat and help fuel their night of global travels!”

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On Christmas Eve, you can leave Santa’s reindeer their very own special treat out on a plate or packaged in a fun and cute bag for Santa to grab and take back to the sleigh. They’ll be so excited to enjoy a tasty (and healthy!) snack to tide them over on their journey.


Dr. Danielle Bernal, veterinarian with Wellness Natural Pet Food