Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer isn’t the only brightly-snouted one in his herd, after all. In fact, all reindeer have noses that glow in the dark.
That’s the discovery made by Swedish researchers, who’ve been using thermal-imaging cameras to capture the heat coming from reindeer as they graze.
Most areas of the reindeer body are well insulated by fur but their non-furry noses glow bright orange on the thermal images, due to the large amounts of heat they release.
The scientists think this is because reindeer have a high concentration of blood vessels in their nose and lips to help keep them sensitive when rummaging through the snow for food.
“When reindeer are feeding,” says study leader Professor Ronald Kröger, a zoologist at Lund University in Sweden, “their noses are exposed to very low temperatures as they look for food under the snow. They need to maintain sensitivity in order to know what they’re actually eating.
“They pump warm blood into the snout which means it can be a bit reddish because of this strong blood flow.”